Climate Change Is Not Gender Neutral: Gender Inequality, Rights and Vulnerabilities in Bangladesh

  • Amy ReggersEmail author
Part of the The Anthropocene: Politik—Economics—Society—Science book series (APESS, volume 28)


Impacts of, and responses to, climate change are not gender neutral. Climate change affects women and men differently. However, nature itself is not discriminatory. It is the social norms and gender inequalities in society that determine the differentiated impacts of climate change on women and men. Unequal power relations, both formal, such as within institutions, and informal, such as within communities and the private sphere, are at the root of the disproportionate vulnerability of women compared to men (Resurreccion et al. 2014). Yet, most gender and climate change research to date has focused on women and their specific vulnerabilities (Otzelberger 2011), rather than focusing on the ways in which inequalities contribute to vulnerabilities and hence, gender relations contribute to the differentiated effects of climate change on women and men. In Bangladesh, gender inequalities dictate that women are more affected by climate change than men. This chapter highlights a few of these underlying gender inequalities from a perspective of rights. The chapter begins with a boxed text outlining international gender and climate change policy, followed by a section on the Bangladesh context and specific gender inequalities and discriminations that contribute to Bangladeshi women’s vulnerability. The author provides examples of national and community level efforts to address the gender dimensions of climate change, and demonstrates that gender stereotypes and the traditional roles of women underpin much of these efforts. Yet the opportunity is now for the Government of Bangladesh, development partners, civil society and academia to bring the issues of discrimination and rights, as they relate to gender equality, to the forefront in addressing the human side climate change impacts and consequently contribute to more gender equality across the country.


Gender inequality Climate change Vulnerabilities Bangladesh 


  1. Ahmed, A.U., Haq, S., Nasreen, M. and Hassan, A.W.R. (2015). Sectoral inputs towards the formulation of Seventh Five Year Plan (2016–2021) Climate Change and Disaster Management, Dhaka Bangladesh.Google Scholar
  2. Alston, M., Whittenbury, K., Haynes, A. and Godden, N. (2014). Are climate challenges reinforcing child and forced marriage and dowry as adaptation strategies in the context of Bangladesh? Women’s Studies International Forum (47), 137–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ayeb-Karlsson, S., van der Geest K., Ahmed I., Huq S. and Warner, K. (2016). A people-centred perspective on climate change, environmental stress, and livelihood resilience in Bangladesh. Sustainability Science, 11(4), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Tanner, T., van der Geest, K., Warner K. et al. (2015). Livelihood resilience in a changing world – 6 global policy recommendations for a more sustainable future. UNU-EHS Working Paper 22. UNU-EHS: Bonn.Google Scholar
  5. Arora-Jonsson, S. (2011). Virtue and vulnerability: Discourses on women, gender and climate change. Global Environmental Change. 21(2), 744–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (2011). Report on Violence Against Women Survey 2011, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Planning, Government of Bangladesh.Google Scholar
  7. Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (2013); at: (9 July 2015).
  8. Biswas, A.A., Zaman, M., Sattar, M.A., Islam, M.S., Hossain, M.A. and Faisal, M. (2015). Assessment of Disaster Impact on the Health of Women and Children. Journal of Health and Environmental Research 1(3):19-28.Google Scholar
  9. Cannon, T. (2002) Gender and climate hazards in Bangladesh. Climate Change and Gender Justice. Gender & Development 10(2):45-50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dankelman, I.E.M. (2008). Gender, climate change and human security: Lessons from Bangladesh, Ghana and Senegal. External Research Report. New York: WEDO.Google Scholar
  11. Enarson, E.P. (2000). Gender and natural disasters. InFocus Programme on Crisis Response and Reconstruction Working Paper 1. Geneva: ILO.Google Scholar
  12. Human Rights Watch (2015). Marry Before Your House is Swept Away; at: (10 August 2015).
  13. Ikeda, K. (2009). How women’s concerns are shaped in community-based disaster risk management in Bangladesh, Contemporary South Asia, 17(1), 65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Institute of Development Studies (2005). BRIDGE Gender and Development in Brief, Issue 16. Brighton, UK.Google Scholar
  15. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007). Fourth Assessment Report (FAR) Climate Change 2007. Cambridge - New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O. R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge - New York.Google Scholar
  17. International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) (2015). Building resilience to environmental change by transforming gender relations: at: (30 April 2015).
  18. International Food Policy Research Institute (2014). Enhancing Women’s Assets to Manage Risk under Climate Change: Potential for Group-Based Approaches (10 June 2015).
  19. Kapoor, A. (2011). Engendering the Climate for Change: Policies and practices for gender-just adaptation, Alternative Futures and Heinrich BÖll Foundation (HBF).Google Scholar
  20. Kartiki, K. (2011). Climate change and migration: a case study from rural Bangladesh, Gender & Development 19(1), 23–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mallick, B. (2014). Cyclone-induced migration in southwest coastal Bangladesh. ASIEN 130:S60-81.Google Scholar
  22. Ministry of Environment and Forests (2009a). Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of Bangladesh.Google Scholar
  23. Ministry of Environment and Forests (2009b). National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA). Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Government of Bangladesh.Google Scholar
  24. Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (2015). Bangladesh Report: The Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the Twenty-third Special Session of the General Assembly (2000), Dhaka, Bangladesh.Google Scholar
  25. Nasreen, M. (2008). Violence against Women in Floods and Post Flood Situations in Bangladesh, ActionAid, Dhaka.Google Scholar
  26. Neumayer, E. and Plümper, T. (2007). The gendered nature of natural disasters: the impact of catastrophic events on the gender gap in life expectancy, 1981–2002. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 97(3), 551–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Oxfam (2008). Rethinking Disasters: Why death and destruction is not nature’s fault but human failure. Oxfam International, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
  28. Rahman, M.K., Paul, B.K., Curtis, A. and Schmidlin, T.W. (2015). Linking Coastal Disasters and Migration: A Case Study of Kutubdia Island, Bangladesh. The Professional Geographer, 67(2), 218–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sauer, M.A.A. (2010). Gender Impact Assessment integrated in Social Impact Assessment – the European experiment in sub-ordination. Paper presented at EASY–ECO Conference, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, 17–19 November 2010.Google Scholar
  30. Shabib, D. and Khan, S. (2014). Gender-sensitive adaptation policy-making in Bangladesh: status and ways forward for improved mainstreaming, Climate and Development, 6(4), 329–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sharmin, Z. and Islam, M.S. (2013). Consequences of climate change and gender vulnerability: Bangladesh perspective. Bangladesh Development Research Working Paper Series. BDRC: Dhaka;at: (2 March 2017).
  32. Sultana, F. (2014). Gendering Climate Change: Geographical Insights. The Professional Geographer, 66(3), 372–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tschakert, P. and Machado, M. (2012), Gender Justice and Rights in Climate Change Adaptation: Opportunities and Pitfalls. Ethics and Social Welfare, 6(3), 275–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. United Nations (2008). 52nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women Interactive Expert Panel. Emerging Issues, Trends and New Approaches to Issues Affecting the Situation of Women or Equality Between Women and Men: Gender Perspectives on Climate Change. February 2008 Issues paper.Google Scholar
  35. United Nations Development Program (2009). Resource Guide on Gender and Climate Change; at:
  36. United Nations Development Program (2014). Human Development Report 2014: Sustaining human progress, reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience. UNDP, New York.Google Scholar
  37. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2005). Global Warning: Women Matter. UNFCCC COP Women’s Statement; at:
  38. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2014). Bangladesh experiences with the NAPA process; at: (7 July 2015).
  39. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2014). Existing Mandates and Entry Points for Gender Equality Technical Guide for COP20, Lima, Peru; at:
  40. United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015). Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030; at: (9 July 2015).
  41. UN Women (2015). Gender, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery Strategy-Asia Pacific. Suva, Fiji.Google Scholar
  42. UN Women and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (2015). Climate Change and Migration in Bangladesh: A Gender Perspective, UN Women, Dhaka.Google Scholar
  43. Wong, S. (2009). Climate change and sustainable technology: re-linking poverty, gender, and governance, Gender & Development 17(1), 95–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. World Food Program (2012). Nutrition strategy. Dhaka, Bangladesh.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNWomenDhakaBangladesh

Personalised recommendations