‘Less Able’: How Gendered Subjectivities Warp Climate Change Adaptation in Ghana’s Central Region


Garcia, Alicea, Petra Tschakert, and Nana Afia Karikari. 2020. “‘Less Able’: How Gendered Subjectivities Warp Climate Change Adaptation in Ghana’s Central Region.” Gender, Place & Culture 27 (11): 1602–27.

Authors: Alicea Garcia, Petra Tschakert, Nana Afia Karikari


Vulnerabilities to climate change and adaptive action vary based on social differences that are bound up in complex power dynamics in any given place, culture, or context. Scholarly interest has shifted from gendered dynamics of climate change adaptation to the socio-political drivers of gendered inequalities that produce discriminatory opportunities for adaptation. This study utilises an intersectional subjectivities lens to examine how entrenched power dynamics and social norms related to gender, as well as age and marital status, galvanise or inhibit capacities to adapt in farming communities of Ghana’s Central Region. Through the use of interviews, focus group discussions, and photovoice sessions, we highlight gendered and intersectional subjectivities, roles, and responsibilities that centre on perceived differences in men’s and women’s strength and power. We then link resulting normative performances of gender to specific barriers to adaptation, such as lack of resources and agency, and demonstrate a pronounced dichotomy as women experience the brunt of these barriers and a persistent power imbalance that positions them as ‘less able’ to adapt than men. Such nuanced assessments of intersectional subjectivities are instrumental in supporting marginalised groups when deliberating and renegotiating inequitable power relations in climate change adaptation. Through repeated efforts at power subversion, emboldened social actors and critical scholars attuned to navigating power differentials can strengthen adaptive capacities and facilitate trajectories toward transformation.

Keywords: agriculture, gendered inequalities, power, (re)negotiation, subjectivities, transformational adaptation

Topics: Age, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Intersectionality Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Ghana

Year: 2020

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