A guide to understanding the gender dimension of climate change in the Caribbean

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By Staff on February 07, 2020

Clautude Dispose holds one of her goats in Ganthier, Haiti, where Mission Sociale des Eglises Hatiennes (MISSEH), a member of the ACT Alliance, helped her and other residents rebuild their homes and lives after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. MISSEH provided animals, seeds and tools to farmers, and helped them organize a more agile and responsive program of disaster risk reduction. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

Water shortage resulting from increased and longer periods of drought has been identified as one of the effects of climate change.

Who will be affected most by the scarcity of water supply? One way to find out would be to ask who the primary collectors, users and managers of water are in one’s community, according to a new guide on gender and climate change developed by the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Mona Campus Unit (IGDS MCU) at the University of the West Indies Mona in Jamaica.

Asking these questions and using a gender analysis guidance tool would help strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) to identify “who is vulnerable to climate risks and how to mitigate the risks,” said the guide, Exploring the intersection between gender and climate change in the Caribbean.

The guide will help CSOs to integrate gender perspectives in their work and use gender analysis as a tool to support more gender-sensitive policies and programmes in adapting to climate change, said its authors, Dr. Leith Dunn and Kimberly Carr-Tobias.

“Gender is a cross-cutting issue in development that impacts many areas of life. If gender issues are not considered, it undermines the effectiveness of policies, programmes, and strategies,” they said.

Dunn and Carr-Tobias underscored the need for the guide, noting that Caribbean countries are vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. “This vulnerability is reflected in a significant increase in hurricanes in the last 20 years and unpredictable weather,” they said, noting that “the 2017 Caribbean Hurricane season was extremely active, and the region experienced two Category five hurricanes.”

The idea for the tool emerged from the Commonwealth Foundation’s Exploratory Conversation with Caribbean civil society organizations held in Barbados in June 2018, entitled Understanding the Intersection between Gender and Climate Change. The gathering recognized the participants’ need “to understand how differences in the roles and responsibilities assigned to males and females and differences in their social and economic backgrounds can affect an individual’s vulnerability to climate change,” said the authors.

The guide has been designed for CSOs in the Caribbean who are working on climate change with vulnerable groups and who are supporting adaptation strategies to help them mitigate their risks. 

It introduces them to the basic concepts and knowledge around gender and climate change to help assess varying needs and vulnerabilities of individuals to climate change. “Civil society agencies can then use this information to support their advocacy work to raise awareness of issues as well as engage government policy makers to ensure policies, and programmes to reduce risks are gender sensitive,” said the authors.

Climate change risks “are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development,” the guide notes. It cites as an example the differences in having access to capital assets and having control over resources. Female-headed households typically have less income than men because on average they earn less than men and more women work in low wage jobs. “This can affect their ability to prepare for, survive during, and recover from a natural hazard,” the guide notes.

By Staff| February 07, 2020

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