The gender dimensions of climate challenges in the context Of climate change diplomacy
Kimani, Margaret Njoki
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In Kenya and the world over, it is evident and clear that women are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they are more prone to the adverse impacts from climate change. Their limited adaptive capacities arise from prevailing social inequalities and ascribed social and economic roles that manifest itself in differences in property rights, access to information, lack of employment and in equal access to resources. Further, changes in the climate usually impact on sectors that are traditionally associated with women, such as paddy cultivation, cotton and tea plantations, and fishing. While awareness of climate change and its impacts have risen dramatically since the original agreement, some key areas have been missing from the debate. The gender aspect of climate change is one of them, and this study seeks to raise awareness of climate change as a gendered issue, making recommendations as to how gender disparities may be addressed in the context of climate change. In the study, the ways in which climate change specifically affects women have been considered. Because of prescribed gender roles, and the fact that, the world over, women are more likely to live in poverty than men, women are disproportionately affected by climate change, whether they live in developing or developed countries. The study has also considered women’s contribution to climate change. It is widely accepted that there is a general correlation between consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As women tend to be poorer than men, they also tend to generate fewer emissions. The study looks at who is responsible for those industries that make large contributions to climate change and are doing too little to change, and scrutinizes those who are actively trying to prevent climate change from being addressed. The gendered responsibilities for these contributions to the problem of climate change will also be analyzed. The other issues that have been addressed include the gender-sensitive strategies to mitigate climate change, the more radical the cuts in emissions in the few years before the adoption and coming into force of a new legal instrument or another protocol that have replaced the existing Kyoto Protocol, the better chance there is of limiting the negative effects of climate change on women. Finally, women’s role in tackling climate change has also been assessed. Women have enormous potential to help address climate change, especially at the domestic level, but continue to be poorly represented in national and international decision-making about climate change. Without improving the situation, it is unlikely that a gender equitable approach to addressing climate change will be agreed.