Get the Link – gender inequality & climate change  

Climate change is inherently a justice issue; the countries that have contributed the least to its causes, unfortunately are suffering the most from the consequences. Equally, every individual is hit differently by the climate crisis, depending on factors such as their socio-economic status, their gender*, their ethnicity, sexual orientation, whether they have disabilities or not etc. Women, girls, gender-diverse and trans people are disproportionately affected by climate change. Simultaneously, they are global leaders for innovative solutions, yet have insufficient access to the negotiation tables and funding.

In this explainer we’ll answer the question: how are gender inequality and climate change linked?   

First things first, why are certain people impacted differently by climate change? 

The fact that climate change does not affect all genders in the same way has to do with factors such as gender norms, societal structures, laws and discrimination.  

Let’s look at an example of how gender norms can put certain groups at an increased risk of climate change. Elderly women tend to still perform household tasks later in life, once men are retired. This work is done on hot days as well, and rising temperatures due to climate change are posing serious health threats to elderly women. 

Women and girls are also the majority of the world’s poor and tend to rely more on natural resources to sustain themselves. After a natural disaster hits, women often don’t have the same opportunities as men to access resources or income. When Nargis typhoon hit Myanmar in 2008, it was estimated that the typhoon cost “the loss of main source of income for 87 % single women and for 100 % married women” (UNEP, WEDO). This goes to show that climate change is like a “threat multiplier” for those that already have the short end of the stick. 

Unfortunately, still a lot of information on these different impacts and needs is lacking. The effects of the climate crisis on gender-diverse and trans people are specifically understudied and not addressed, creating further gaps in knowledge and climate action 

Altogether, as climate change worsens, so will social inequalities, meaning gender inequality will increase. This direct link cannot be ignored.  

Feminists on the street during COP26 in Glasgow for climate justice

Whose voice is needed? 

Even though half of the world’s population consists of women and girls, their voice remains less heard in the formation of climate policies. At the COP26 in Glasgow, only 37 per cent of the delegation members were women, and they even only accounted for 29 per cent of the total speaking time (UNFCCC). Not having diverse climate leadership is not only unjust, but also unwise. The UN website poses that ‘’this inclusive approach is not only a legal, ethical and moral obligation; it will also contribute to climate action that is more effective.’’  More diverse leadership is needed at the negotiation tables of the COP, and progress on this is simply moving too slow. 

Whose climate actions do we need to support? 

Women hold key positions in the support of processes concerning forestation, soil and water management and ensuring variation of cultivated crops. Besides, women have important knowledge when it comes to biodiversity, and have proven to be pioneers in important sectors such as sustainable energy, water, forestation and agriculture. Gender-just, women-led solutions provide a powerful path to climate justice, about which you can learn more here. However, these types of initiatives are often not reached with finance and resources.  

What’s next for achieving gender and climate justice? 

Civil society continues to push the fight for climate- and gender-justice at the UN Climate Conference (COP27) in Sharm-al Sheikh this November. Because one simply cannot exist without the other. 

Keep a look out on our instagram for more information on the COP and our activities! 



* Gender: Can be conceptualized as the complex interrelationship between somebodies’ physical body, their identity (how they view their gender), and their social gender (the attributes society gives). This interrelationship is dynamic, these categories are not fixed, and a persons’ gender can change. 

References and useful links