Gender, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Climate Change Adaptation: A Learning Companion | Gender Equality

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This Learning Companion aims to provide Oxfam programme staff with the basis for incorporating gender analysis and women’s rights into disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) programming. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction are priorities for Oxfam GB, as are strengthening women’s rights and gender equality.
  1   Gender, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Climate Change Adaptation: A Learning Companion Oxfam Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change  Adaptation Resources  2 Learning objectives After reading this Companion, you should ã have a theoretical overview of how poverty and inequality shape the experiences of women and men during disasters, and as a result of climate change; ã understand Oxfam’s approach to strengthening gender equality and women’s rights through gender mainstreaming, and how this is applied to adaptation and risk reduction work in practice; ã understand what gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment mean in terms of changes in the lives of women and men who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and at risk of disaster; and ã know where to go to learn more. 1 About this Learning Companion This Learning Companion aims to provide Oxfam programme staff with the basis for incorporating gender analysis and women’s rights into Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) programming. Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction are priorities for Oxfam GB, as are strengthening women’s rights and gender equality.This Companion is one of a series that covers key topics for programme staff. You should read the Learning Companions ‘An Introduction to Disaster Risk Reduction’ and ‘An Introduction to Climate Change Adaptation’ first for definitions of DRR and CCA and other key terminology, as well as Oxfam’s ‘Disaster Risk Reduction Programme Policy’ and ‘Climate Change Adaptation Programme Policy Guidelines’. This Companion assumes that you already have an understanding of Adaptation and Risk Reduction and of Oxfam’s approach to project cycle management, and that you understand the basic concepts of gender and poverty analysis. For more information, please see the ‘further reading’ section at the end of this document. Oxfam staff can contact the Programme Help Desk ( ). Contents 1 About this Learning Companion2 Why is gender important to Oxfam’s adaptation and risk reduction work?3 Oxfam’s approach to gender mainstreaming in adaptation and risk reduction4 Project cycle management: adaptation and risk reduction from a gender perspective4.1 Programme identification: gender analysis4.2 Planning and design 4.3 Implementation and management: gender mainstreaming in practice4.4 Monitoring and evaluation 5 Summary of key learning6 Further readingNotes  3 2 Why is gender important to Oxfam’s adaptation and risk reduction work? The poverty experienced by millions of women and men is shaped by inequalities that discriminate against and marginalize certain social groups by denying them their right of access to resources, opportunities, and power. The most pervasive of these inequalities, and the one which affects all communities, is gender inequality. Oxfam believes that gender inequality is a fundamental abuse of women’s human rights, as well as a major barrier to sustainable development. Across the world, women tend to hold less power and to have control over fewer resources than men, at every institutional level. Women’s disadvantage – their unequal access to resources, legal protection, decision making and power, their reproductive burden, 1  and their vulnerability to violence – consistently render them more vulnerable than men to the impacts of climate change and disasters. Understanding how gender relations shape women’s and men’s lives is therefore critical to effective Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction. Key gender terms Gender   refers to the social differences between females and males throughout the life cycle. These gender differences are learned, and though deeply rooted in every culture, are changeable over time, and have wide variations both within and between cultures. ‘Gender’, along with other aspects of social identity such as class and race, determines the roles, power, and access to resources for females and males in any culture. Gender equality , or equality between women and men, refers to the equal enjoyment by women, girls, boys, and men of rights, opportunities, resources, and rewards; an equal say in the development process; and the same level of dignity and respect. Equality does not mean that women and men are the same, but that they have the same power to make choices, and the same opportunities to act on those choices. Gender mainstreaming  is a globally recognized strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic, and societal spheres. This is to ensure that women and men benefit equally from processes of development, and that inequality is not perpetuated. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a term used to describe physical, mental, or social abuse, committed on the basis of the victim’s gender and against her will. This includes acts of violence, attempted or threatened, committed with force, manipulation, or coercion. Examples of GBV include sexual violence, domestic violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), harm to men’s genitals, forced early marriage, and widow killings. Gender-based violence is rooted in unequal power relations between women and men. Most acts of GBV are committed by men or boys against women and girls: this is known as ’violence against women’ (VAW). But men and boys may also be the target of GBV, and women can also be perpetrators of GBV; for example, male violence against gay men, or women’s involvement in property grabbing. ‘The river has taken everything – my animals, house, land, even my family.’ Rosa Juarez, 93, Vicus, Peru. Like many places in the area, Vicus is vulnerable to flooding and landslides. Oxfam and its partner Centro Ideas have supported the local civil defence committee to be better prepared to help people like Rosa when disaster strikes. Photo: Gilvan Barreto/Oxfam, 2008.  4 The impacts of climate change and disasters magnify existing inequalities between men and women. Women tend to be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and are affected in their multiple roles as food producers and providers, as guardians of health, as care-givers, and as economic actors. 2  Drought, saline intrusion into water sources, and erratic rainfall all cause women to work harder to secure resources such as food, water, and fuel. They mean that women have less time to earn an income, to access education or training, or to participate in decision-making processes. This, in addition to the fact that women make up the majority of the world’s poor, means that climate change and disaster are likely to have disproportionately negative effects on them, potentially increasing their poverty and unequal status.Some examples of this are: ã Women are more likely than men to be killed or injured as a direct result of climate-related disasters (see box opposite). ã Women depend most directly on natural resources to provide for their families. They are usually the main collectors of water and fuel, and most women farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture. ã Female-headed households are often among the poorest and the most vulnerable to disaster and climate change, as they may have little choice other than to live in precarious locations such as flood-prone lands, or on steep slopes. ã Women tend to have fewer assets to rely on than men. In economic terms, they are less likely to own their own land, or have access to credit, agricultural extension services, and transportation. ã Violence against women, both from intimate partners and unknown men, is known to rise after disasters. The risk of this may be increased by a lack of privacy and safety in camps or shelters; coercion to provide sex for goods or services; and a backlash against women who have taken on new leadership roles. Gender-differentiated mortality rates in disasters caused by natural hazards Several studies have shown that disaster mortality rates are higher for women than for men, and that this is caused by differences in the vulnerability of women and men that are the result of socially constructed gender roles. Following the 2004 Asian tsunami, Oxfam found that in many villages in Aceh, Indonesia, and in parts of India, females accounted for over 70 per cent of the dead. 3  In the 1991 cyclone disaster that killed 140,000 in Bangladesh, 90 per cent of victims were women and girls. 4  A study of 141 countries found that more women than men are killed during disasters; and at an earlier age, particularly in poor communities, because of the discrimination they suffer due to their gender. 5 Women are not just victims of climate change and disasters, however. They demonstrate extraordinary powers of resilience during disasters and they can also be powerful agents of change. Women have repeatedly led initiatives to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and their knowledge and responsibilities related to natural resource management have proven critical to community survival. 6  They have shown themselves essential in mobilizing communities to prepare for and to respond to disaster. The skills, experiences, and capacities of women need to be harnessed alongside those of men by those implementing Adaptation and Risk Reduction programmes. Understanding how gender relations shape a community’s response to disaster and climate change is therefore critical to ensuring effective programme planning, as well as to ensure that women are empowered by the process, rather than further disadvantaged.  Anna cooks food on a raft in front of her flooded kitchen in Bogra, Bangladesh. The region was heavily affected by floods in 2007. Photo: EPA/Abir Abdullah
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