Gender mainstreaming is now considered as an integral part of development, both in terms of conceptualisation and practice. Nonetheless, the planning practice necessary to effect wide-scale change has not always been concordant with the larger body of conceptual knowledge (Moser 1991: 83).
Similarly, linking gender to climate change did not always seem obvious to many development researchers and practitioners. Yet, there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the theory that climate change has numerous development and environmental implications which will impact negatively on women and men, but in a differentiated manner.
As discussed by Kjellén in this Bulletin, getting states to conjugate environment and development in one sentence was a huge challenge, especially for developing countries whose electoral mandate tends to be heavily premised on development priorities such as access to clean water, healthcare, education for all and better employment opportunities. The 1972 Stockholm Conference laid down the foundation for bringing development and environment under a single banner; but for many developing countries this twinning remained academic until the Rio Conference in 1992. Since then, scientists and policy makers have focused their attention on integrating environment and development. Like the other Rio Conventions, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an agreement that encapsulates that focus. Although gender issues are now an integral part of development, they remain far removed from the cut and thrust of mainstream climate policy.
This article first seeks to illustrate the different strands of the gender and climate debate and offers possible suggestions of why gender was almost perceived as an afterthought in the climate discussions. Second, it looks at three climate sensitive areas: agriculture, water and energy, and how adaptation strategies could be crafted to help women and men in these sectors. Third, the article looks at the general discourse on gender and development and identifies lessons that could be learnt by gender and climate change activists.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 35.3 (2004) Gender and Climate Change: Giving the “Latecomer” a Head Start