Girls and women do not experience climate change in the same ways as boys and men. The reason? Historical and structural gender inequalities — which also affect how, and to what extent, girls and women can lead, make decisions, take action, and advance solutions to combat climate change.

Explicit and implicit social norms and laws have imposed differentiated powers, roles, and responsibilities on women and men in all aspects of life. Girls and women — especially those living in the Global South — bear an unequal responsibility for securing food, water, energy, and other vital resources as well as for caring for the young and elderly — all of which place them at greater risk of experiencing detrimental climate impacts. For example, girls and women often suffer the most when heat waves, droughts, severe storms or other extreme climate events strike. They face physical and mental health complications, bear the burden of traveling farther to collect scarce food, water, and firewood, and are often forced to stay behind in disaster-prone areas to care for the vulnerable.

In addition, girls and women have been prevented from full and fair participation in the global climate action movement. They continue to face gender-specific violence and harassment as a result of their climate activism, remain underrepresented in global climate negotiations, and their solutions are drastically under-resourced.

The fact is environmentalism has always been a women’s issue.

Here are five ways in which gender inequality and climate change intersect, threatening livelihoods, well-being, and progress for girls and women around the world:

  1. Women face barriers to leaving areas prone to climate change and natural disaster.
  2. Women face disproportionately high health risks from the effects of climate change.
  3. Gender-specific threats are used to silence female environmental leaders.
  4. Women are excluded from decision-making spaces and climate change negotiations.
  5. Female-led groups do not receive sufficient climate funding.

Read the full article about women and climate change by Gabriela Carbó at United Nations Foundation.