Women, Energy and Sustainability: Making Links, Taking Action


Milne, Wendy. 2004. “Women, Energy and Sustainability: Making Links, Taking Action.” Canadian Woman Studies 23 (1): 55–60.

Author: Wendy Milne


The ENERGIA network has worked skillfully to promote its mission. At the WSSD, ENERGIA was able to ensure that gender and energy issues were a component of the discussions. ENERGIA developed a background paper on gender and energy (ENERGIA 2001) and then created strategic alliances with other organizations to successfully lobby the Women's Caucus and the Climate Change Caucus to ensure that a gender and energy perspective appeared in their statements (Karlsson and Oaproacha). Ultimately the weakness in the political commitment to adequately address the linkages between energy, gender, and poverty in the WSSD Plan of Implementation (PoI) does not negate the success of ENERGIA in raising awareness of the issue and providing rationale for gender sensitive energy planning and policies for sustainable development (de Melo Branco and Roehr). Climate change like energy is not gender neutral. Fatma Denton (2000) observes that the topic of gender and climate change is such a burgeoning area of study that the findings are often more theoretical than empirical. However, it is being argued that women, particularly in the South, will be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change (Denton 2002; Dankleman). Building on existing research in gender and energy, environment and sustainable development a number of factors have been identified that make woman particularly vulnerable to climate change. The possible health effects of climate change and caring for the ill will fall within women's areas of responsibility, as will expected nutritional problems, food and water shortages (Villagrasa). The affects of climate change on agriculture, fishing, and the tourism sectors also have the potential to affect women more than men (Denton 2000). As well, there is some indication that women are more vulnerable to disasters related to climate change (Dankleman; Skutch 2002) The two principal treaties related to climate change, the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, are lacking references to women, gender, and poverty, and only generally refer to social and economic sustainable development (Skutch 2002). Gender sensitive responses to climate change require more women on the various commissions within the climate change development process, and gender needs to be included in future policy formulations and activities (Denton 2002; Villagrassa). Women need to be active participants in policy-making on mitigation strategies, vulnerability studies, and in projects for adaptation, technology transfer, and capacity building (Wamukonya and Skutch). Skutch (2002) adds that explicitly including gender considerations in all climate change negotiations and strategies will increase the efficiency of the negotiation process and keep gender equity issues on the international agenda. 

Topics: Environment, Gender, Women, Health, Infrastructure, Energy

Year: 2004

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