In societies where people are discriminated against based on gender, ethnicity, class, and caste, being a man or woman is often a decisive factor in determining the levels of risk they face from climatic shocks, extreme and uncertain weather, and changes in the environment and economy. Indeed, being a woman or man will often determine people’s access and control over productive assets, mobility, level of education, access to and understanding of information. The resources and options people have to act on these shocks and changes are also strongly dependent on gender norms and expectations that govern the lives they live.

Gender inequality is a root cause of poverty. Climate change, in turn, is making poverty worse. This means that the chances of achieving a better life for many women and girls living in poverty are threatened by a double injustice: climate change and gender inequality. Unequal distribution of resources and power imbalances are both the root cause of poverty and also impact a person’s capacity to adapt.

Involving both men and women equally in decision-making processes results in more sustainable climate action. CARE’s community-based projects prove that through capacity-building efforts, men and women can play complementary roles. The better our understanding of how gender dynamics influence people’s vulnerability to climatic changes, and what options they have to deal with these changes, the more successfully we can target groups and action. Every livelihood has a gender dimension specific to its culture and context. Various CARE initiatives support local practitioners and decision-makers to address the impacts of climate change on communities in ways that are more responsive to gender dynamics. CARE’s experience shows that responding to climate change, while ambitiously tackling gender inequalities, requires committed leadership.