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Women at the frontline of climate change: Gender risks and hopes

Women at the front line of climate change

Edited by C. Nellemann, R. Verma and L. Hislop
Published by UNEP
Website: www.unep.org
2011, 68pp, ISBN 978 8 27701 099 1 (Pb), free to download

Women need to be at the heart of climate adaptation efforts because of the significant roles they play in agriculture, food security, household livelihoods and labour productivity. But a lack of access to education, poverty, discrimination, food insecurity, limited access to resources and exclusion from policymaking decisions make adaptation difficult. "Although women are among the frontline managers of the environment, often lacking equitable access to resources and disproportionately bear the risk of climate change, they simultaneously offer the greatest hope for the future," the report states.

Using the Himalayas as an example, Women at the frontline of climate change argues that women have valuable knowledge and skills in managing natural resources. "Women provide a central opportunity for promoting sustainable mountain development," the report adds. "Learning from them and investing in them will provide a crucial stepping stone and catalyst for future adaptation efforts far beyond mountain regions. Imagine what is possible in terms of adaptation to climate change if women are given due recognition and are included in international development efforts and policy processes as strategically important development actors in their own right."

In conclusion, the report makes seven recommendations for governments and relevant development agencies. These include designing adaptation programmes in ways that are sensitive to the roles women and men play, ensuring women's access, control and ownership of resources, investing in appropriate labour saving technologies, enabling women to participate in policymaking at all levels, providing education and training, and detecting and combating human trafficking. "Women's voices, responsibilities and knowledge on the environment and the challenges they face will need to be a central part of the adaptive response to a rapidly changing climate."

Date published: December 2011

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