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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change, Environmental Justice, Environmental Politics, Key COP17 Issues » Climate Change, Gender Vulnerability and Zimbabwe

Climate Change, Gender Vulnerability and Zimbabwe

Claire Tighe ’13

Some quick thoughts and on the relationship between gendered vulnerability and climate change in Zimbabwe, as stated through the Heinrich Boll Stiftung report entitled, “Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Preparedness in Southern Africa: Zimbabwe Country Report 2010.” Download the report here.

"Gendered" Representation Needed at COP17

In 2010 the German Green Party published the aforementioned document outlining and evaluating the present state of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Zimbabwe. The report claims that current gender inequalities are compounding effects of climate change, “A deliberate and extensive effort is needed to integrate gender issues into Zimbabwe’s response to climate change. Gender disaggregated data on vulnerabilities is needed at both micro and macro levels. The accentuated vulnerability of women to climate change should be acknowledged, researched, and integrated in plannig and strategy building. Policy making in response to climate change must ensure the participation of women, children, the elderly, the disabled and other vulnerable groups. Gender parity should be mainstreamed in the institutional frameworks and programmes of all organisations and bodies involved in responding to climate change in Zimbabwe. Likewise, institutions involved in public awareness raising should ensure that communities are informed of implications of climate change on gender relations, and are aware of restorative alternatives.”

Currently, gender relationships have not been a central concern of the international climate change negotiations, leading to a pure focus on technical and economic bias on the resulting documents and policies. “If women’s organisations are not actively involved, gender and women’s aspects will not be addressed; and becasuse gender aspects are not addressed, women’s organisations do not take part.” From here on out, gender based organisations should not only be in attendance at COP, but should have central roles in the negotiations in order to adequately influence the outcomes.

What might the outcomes of COP17 look like if negotiators used a feminist approach to policy making? Find out more about GENDER CC @ DURBAN COP 17!

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5 Responses to "Climate Change, Gender Vulnerability and Zimbabwe"

  1. Emily Bowie says:

    Interesting summary / recap but I’m not sure what you mean by a “feminist approach to policy making” at the end. That could be interpreted in a lot of ways. Would it require all women to be the policy makers? Would it require input to all delegates who aren’t women from women? If it does not require the direct input from women what guidelines would need to be followed to ensure a “feminist approach” was being used?

    Just a few thoughts! Thanks for sharing though :]

    1. Claire says:

      I think you’re confusing feminism and women. The Heinrich report suggests informing policy makers about the gendered differences that exacerbate effects of climate change. It also suggests including a gender-centric approach in the negotiations. That doesn’t necessarily mean that “women” are the negotiators or that women are doing the informing. Of course, if I remember correctly, the report also advocated that more women be part of the negotiations, just to create more gender equity in the negotiations. However, it would be essentialist to say that if women are negotiators, that they will automatically represent the interests of women. Make sense?

      Finally, a “feminist approach to policy making,” would be one that considers the gendered inequalities that structure the way society looks, which ultimately structures the way in which climate change will affect all people. It would also be an approach that advocates for the inclusion of all under-represented voices, such as indigenous people or impoverished people.

  2. Anna McGinn says:

    I think it is interesting that you say that because gender relations are not a central concern of the international climate change negotiations, the documents which result from the negotiations have a technical and economic bias. Do you think that if more women were involved in the negotiations that there would be less of a focus on the economics of the situations? I feel like the women would still be representing their countries, so they would be presenting similar negotiating positions. In general, I agree with you that all currently underrepresented groups should be better represented (indigenous peoples, impoverished people, etc.).

    1. Claire says:

      I agree with you Anna. I do not personally believe that if women were negotiators that they would automatically represent the views of “all women.” The report is suggesting that the understanding of the ways in which society is gendered, creating inequalities amongst the genders, need to be understood in policy making. For example, if more women in Zimbabwe live in impoverished conditions, approaches to understanding the ways in which climate change will affect this need to be made clear.

      It is not that more women need to be involved in the negotiations. It is that a “gendered approach” needs to be involved. However, more women should be involved in the negotiations to reflect gender equality. It might even be ideal if the ratio of male/female negotiators reflected Zimbabwe’s ratio.

      You can also see my response to Emily, above.

      I’m interested in talking about this more! So definitely post again!

  3. learyn says:

    In recent years, gender issues have become more visible at the COP, as have issues of humanitarian rights and indigenous peoples’ rights. Though mostly this has occurred at side events and the exhibit hall of the COPs, and less so in the official negotiations.

    There are several side events on women, gender and climate change scheduled for COP 17. One event, “African First Ladies Forum on Climate Change” will include Bishop Desmond Tutu and Al Gore as speakers. Yes, there are ladies scheduled to speak as well – Graça Machel Mandela and Dame Patience Goodluck. But interestingly the ladies are out numbered by the gentlemen. The forum is scheduled for 8:15-9:45 pm on Nov 29 in Room 1. Because of the big names, if you want to attend you should get to the room well before the scheduled time.

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