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Capstone Project research report: Gendered impacts of weather and climate: Evidence from Asia, Pacific and Africa

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This report was co-authored by Ms Olga Bogdan, Mr McPherlain, C. Chungu and Ms Seulgi Yoon, in the framework of a joint partnership between the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the World Meteorological Organization. It was prepared under the overall guidance, invaluable advice and important contributions of Dr Assia Alexieva (Head of Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, WMO), Dr Claire Somerville (Executive Director of the Gender Centre, the Graduate Institute), and with the support of Mr Simon Lobach (Teaching Assistant, the Graduate Institute).


In the last decade, the international discourse regarding the nexus between climate change and gender has evolved. However, the causes and types of gender-differentiated impacts on different groups of women and men as they emerge from their experiences “on the ground” are much less understood.

This research report was commissioned as a response to this precise knowledge gap. It analysed the gendered impacts of weather and climate and the gender-specific needs of climate information and services in Asia, Africa and Pacific Small Island Developing States, especially as they emerge from disaster risk management and agriculture and food security, two sectors heavily affected by climate change.

The central research questions that the study sought to answer were:

  • How and why are different groups of women and men from the selected regions affected differently by climate-related changes in the disaster risk reduction and agriculture and food security sectors?

  • What are the gender-specific needs for weather and climate information in the selected regions and how can climate providers better address these needs?

To address these questions, a comprehensive understanding of men and women’s interaction with their immediate environment (economic, political, cultural and social) and their situation with regard to access to climate resources is crucial. This required a deliberate gender differentiated enquiry into the experiences of these men and women in their respective contexts.

This was achieved by applying an intersectional and multi-level research framework in the analysis of eighteen case studies, including three model case studies from Bangladesh, Fiji and Botswana. The report thus goes beyond existing assumptions that women, in general, are more affected, by analysing the experiences of different groups of women and men, at the intersection of such social categories, like age, economic status, location, marital status, disability.

The main findings resulting from the analysis of primary data of this research are the following:

  • State of play: Climate and weather impacts are not gender neutral but are experienced differently by different groups of women and men, at the intersection of other social determinants, such as economic status, location, age, disability, and marital status.

  • Opportunity: Climate change has the potential of transformative change in gender relations and roles. Indeed, climate-induced impacts determine women and men to engage in different new activities, leading to new roles in the family and in the community. Women start taking a leadership role among their male counterparts as they engage in alternative livelihoods and income-generating activities.

  • Gap: There is significantly scarce evidence about the impacts of climate change on different groups of men. There is also very limited empirical data on gender-differentiated needs of climate information. These are potential areas of research to be further explored through further fieldwork and case studies.

The report has also generated a systematic typology of gendered impacts of weather and climate developed by the authors, as emerging from the three regions under study, which found that:

  • Rural women and men, disabled and older women, widowed and divorced women, pregnant women and widowers are most affected by climate-related changes;

  • Physical impacts on women include extra workloads, increased rate and risk of mortality and morbidity in disasters, as well as of sexual and gender-based violence and early marriage, while physical impacts on men include migration for livelihood diversification and increased risk of mortality among men with heroic behaviours or working as rescue workers;

  • Psychological climate change impacts on women include issues associated with fear of gender-based violence and feelings of shame during disasters, while men are affected more by psychological impacts like social isolation, trauma and depression that can lead to alcohol abuse or even suicide;

  • Material impacts are largely felt by both women and men as they lose their assets, however men tend to lose bigger livestock, while women lose small household livestock that tends to be sold the first as a coping mechanism. Women also have less time for livelihood diversification and are more affected especially when their livelihoods are connected to natural resources;

In order to address these impacts and reduce vulnerability by enhancing adaptive capacity of women and men, recommendations for gender-responsive climate information delivery at three levels were made.

  • Governments should ensure equal access to resources for both women and men, adopt gender-responsive policies and indicators in climate, disaster and agriculture areas, collect and use gender-disaggregated data and conduct intersectional analysis in climate change;

  • NMHS should foster their partnerships and cooperation with various actors, including users; diversify channels of distribution of early warnings and agricultural information to be adapted to users’ needs and ensure that the content of messages is timely, user-friendly and comprehensible (by scale, format and language);

  • The Global Framework for Climate Services and WMO should ensure meaningful and systematic gender mainstreaming and gender analysis in its programmes, activities, capacity building, trainings and baseline evaluation of National Frameworks for Climate Services.

Though the results of this study cannot be fully generalized, as the effects of climate change are differentiated across regions and countries and each community is different in terms of culture, social and economic aspects, the study finds that climate and weather effects are not gender neutral but are experienced differently by different groups of women and men, at the intersection of other social determinants such as economic status, location, age, disability, and marital status.