Mainstreaming gender in health adaptation to climate change programmes

About (English version): 

Over the past few decades, global research has shown that gender inequalities can give rise to health inequities between men and women and between boys and girls. A grow- ing body of evidence also indicates that climate change is already causing negative health impacts, mainly felt by the most vulnerable populations, usually living in countries where the health system is less resilient to climate variability and change. Consequently, when climate change interacts with gender inequalities, it results in more pronounced negative health impacts in one sex over the other.

Indeed, the available literature shows that climate-related impacts on health are exces- sively affecting women, influencing and exacerbating existing social determinants of health such as poverty and illiteracy. In many communities, women tend to have less access to the resources that could help them overcome existing vulnerabilities; are more likely to be reliant on climate-sensitive resources and livelihoods; and tend to have lower levels of meaningful participation in climate change adaptation processes. This premise is supported by data showing that natural disasters continue to kill more women than men, and kill women at a younger age. These gender differences appear to be greater in more severe disasters, and where women have relatively lower socioeconomic status than that of men. On the other hand, there is evidence that men are more affected in some situations. In Australia and India, for example, male rural farmers suffered men- tal illness in the aftermath of droughts, and subsequent increases in the rates of suicides were seen.

To effectively mitigate the different adverse health effects of climate change on women and men, it is imperative to employ scaled adaptation approaches that mainstream gen- der in all climate change and health programmes. These approaches must tackle gender inequality directly, moving towards empowering vulnerable groups as active agents of change instead of regarding them as passive in relation to climate change challenges.

This guide is targeted towards programme managers who work in climate change and health adaptation, and provides them with practical information and concrete guidance to mainstream gender throughout all four phases of the project cycle: identification, formulation and design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. In order to effectively mainstream gender within their health adaptation to climate change pro- grammes, managers will learn to conduct a gender analysis of health vulnerability and adverse health impacts of climate change, and to design gender-responsive adaptation programmes and actions, thanks to the practical and programmatic recommendations included in Section 3.

The guide is divided into three sections:

1. What is gender and why does it matter?
2. Understanding gender dimensions of climate change and health.
3. Mainstreaming gender in health adaptation to climate change programmes. 

The first section draws on the World Health Organization (WHO) Gender mainstream- ing manual for health managers and explains key terms and concepts important for understanding how gender and other social determinants influence health outcomes. It introduces principles of gender mainstreaming and the rationale for integrating gender considerations within health adaptation strategies.

The second section explores how biological and sociocultural factors (gender norms, roles and relations) and access to and control over resources influence vulnerability to health risks associated with climate change, and the adaptive capacity of groups and individuals to adjust to changing environments and their social and economic impacts.

The third section is also adapted from the Gender mainstreaming manual for health managers, and provides practical guidance and best practices for mainstreaming gender in health adaptation to climate change programmes. This section presents a set of tools and recommendations to support programme managers conduct a gender analysis and adequately mainstream gender within all phases of the project cycle. 

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