Climate Change Is Not Gender Neutral: Gender Inequality, Rights and Vulnerabilities in Bangladesh
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.
KeywordsGender inequality Climate change Vulnerabilities Bangladesh
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