Analytical study on gender-responsive climate action for the full and effective enjoyment of the rights of women: Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/41/26)
Human Rights Council
24 June–12 July 2019
Agenda items 2 and 3
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the
High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights,
including the right to development
The present analytical study on the integration of a gender-responsive approach into climate action at the local, national, regional and international levels for the full and effective enjoyment of the rights of women is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 38/4. In the study, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights examines the impacts of climate change on women, identifies human rights obligations and responsibilities of States and other actors to implement gender-responsive approaches, shares illustrative practices, and issues conclusions and recommendations.
The present study is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 38/4, in which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was requested to conduct an analytical study, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, on the integration of a gender-responsive approach into climate action for the full and effective enjoyment of the rights of women.
On 27 August 2018, OHCHR circulated a note verbale and a questionnaire to Member States, requesting their inputs. OHCHR also contacted other stakeholders, including international organizations, national human rights institutions and civil society. The inputs received1 and consultations with stakeholders informed the present study.
The study outlines some key impacts of climate change on women2 and describes gender-responsive, rights-based approaches to address these. It highlights several illustrative practices and concludes with recommendations for a gender-responsive approach to climate action.
II. Gendered impacts of climate change
Diverse factors, such as social status, gender, poverty level, access to resources and discrimination affect one’s capacity to adapt to climate change. International human rights law prohibits gender-based discrimination. Yet, women often face systemic discrimination, harmful stereotypes and social, economic and political barriers that limit their adaptive capacity. These include limited or inequitable access to financial assets and services, education, land, resources, and decision-making processes, as well as fewer opportunities and less autonomy. Persons of lower socioeconomic status and those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination may be more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In general, women are more likely to experience the adverse effects of climate change than men, because women constitute most of the world’s poor and are often directly dependent on threatened natural resources as their primary source of food and income.3
Although some individual women may be less vulnerable to climate change than some men, the global perpetuation of discrimination, inequality, patriarchal structures and systemic barriers, as well as the different views, experiences and needs of men and women, contribute to an overall higher risk of women experiencing harmful effects of climate change. In this way, climate change perpetuates gender inequality. Gender inequality and the violation of women’s rights, in turn, hinder women’s participation in climate action. Addressing climate change, including its gendered impacts (of which several are described below), is therefore essential to protecting the human rights of women.