Climate Change and Gender Equality in Developing States

Citation:

Eastin, Joshua. 2018. "Climate Change and Gender in Developing States." World Development 107: 289-305.

Author: Joshua Eastin

Abstract:

It is commonly accepted that women can be more vulnerable than men to the adverse environmental effects of climate change. This paper evaluates whether the unequal distribution of costs women bear as a result of climate change are reflected across broader macro-social institutions to the detriment of gender equality and women's rights. It argues that gender disparities in climate change vulnerability not only reflect preexisting gender inequalities, they also reinforce them. Inequalities in the ownership and control of household assets and rising familial burdens due to male out-migration, declining food and water access, and increased disaster exposure can undermine women's ability to achieve economic independence, enhance human capital, and maintain health and wellbeing. Consequences for gender equality include reductions in intra-household bargaining power, as women become less capable of generating independent revenue. Outside the home, norms of gender discrimination and gender imbalances in socio-economic status should increase as women are less able to participate in formal labor markets, join civil society organizations, or collectively mobilize for political change. The outcome of these processes can reduce a society's level of gender equality by increasing constraints on the advancement of laws and norms that promote co-equal status. I empirically test this relationship across a sample of developing states between 1981 and 2010. The findings suggest that climate shocks and climatic disasters a broadly negative impact on gender equality, as deviations from long-term mean temperatures and increasing incidence of climatological and hydro-meteorological disasters are associated with declines in women's economic and social rights. These effects appear to be most salient in states that are relatively less-democratic, with greater dependence on agriculture, and lower levels of economic development.

Keywords: climate change, gender equality, women's rights, development, vulnerability, developing states

Topics: Agriculture, Development, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2018

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