State of Gender Equality and Climate Change in South Asia and the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Authored by: Chanda Gurung Goodrich, Abid Hussain, Binaya Pasakhala et al.

Categories: Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: Climate and Environment, Economic Participation, Human Development
Region: East Asia and the Pacific
Year: 2022
Citation: Gurung Goodrich, Chanda, Abid Hussain, Binaya Pasakhala et al. "State of Gender Equality and Climate Change in South Asia and the Hindu Kush Himalaya." International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. September 2022.

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Executive Summary

South Asia and the HKH are among the regions that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with the aggravated impacts becoming more evident in the scale and increased incidence of climate-related disasters in recent years. The report finds that climate change can aggravate pre-existing social and gender inequalities. In her opening remarks, Izabella Koziell, Deputy Director General, ICIMOD stated, “All of us have a very important role to play in making the voices of girls, women, and other marginalised groups heard so that actions are real, and progress is tangible.”

Climate change can potentially widen existing gender gaps mainly due to women’s limited access, control, and ownership over resources, participation in decision making, and freedom of choice that are determined by the overarching patriarchal values and social norms in the region. The report underlines the need to address these gendered vulnerabilities and recognise the prevalence of patriarchal systems that hinder women’s roles and agency in adaptation and mitigation in most South Asian and HKH countries. In addition to gender inequality, climate change has also further compounded issues of food insecurity and poverty – some of the root causes of increasing vulnerability to climate change.

The report reviewed policies in South Asia and the HKH countries related to gender equality and climate. All ten countries in these regions are transitioning to low-emission development pathways that integrate mitigation and adaptation solutions across sectors, including water, energy, and agriculture, and have committed to limit global warming to 1.5°C and reach net zero emissions by the middle of the century. Although climate change is a central agenda , the report finds inadequate integration of gender concerns in climate change policies, laws, institutional frameworks, and sectoral policies and programmes – and failure to implement policies that are sound in principle. “To move from commitment to actual implementation, countries need evidence, data, and support to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement and achieve gender equality in the context of climate change,” emphasised Mozaharul Alam, Regional Coordinator, Climate Change for Asia and the Pacific Office, UNEP.

Based on the findings, the report puts forward national-level recommendations and guidelines to integrate gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) concerns effectively to address differential vulnerabilities in a changing climate. The assessment also suggests sector-specific recommendations for mainstreaming GESI in policies and implementation in the agriculture, water, and energy sectors. Maria Holtsberg Deputy Regional Director, Officer-in-Charge, UN Women hoped that “the report will serve as a guide to developing innovative solutions and re-envisioning a future that puts women and the most marginalised groups at its core, drawing on their knowledge, capacities, and aspirations.”