To what extent are adaptation to climate change and vulnerability to disasters social issues? This short paper argues that vulnerability to climate change is determined by social, economic and geographical characteristics, and that there is substantial evidence that poor women are more vulnerable to natural disasters because of socially constructed gender roles and behaviours. In inequitable societies for example, boys are likely to receive preferential treatment in rescue efforts and both women and girls suffer more from shortages of food and economic resources in the aftermath of disasters. They are also more vulnerable due to physical and biological differences that can disadvantage their initial response to natural hazards; and to impacts of social norms and given roles (related to the expected behaviour of women) that affect the way they react to a disaster. Although women are disproportionately impacted by disasters and swift environmental changes, women have also contributed to curbing the impacts of climate change. Women's knowledge and responsibilities related to natural resource management have proven to be critical to community survival.The paper's recommendations include::- Global and national studies should produce gender-differentiated data on the impacts of climate change and emphasise the capacities of men and women to adapt to and mitigate climate changes.:- Research should highlight the advantages of implementing gender-sensitive adaptation projects.:- Women's access to and control over natural resources should be improved. This would reduce poverty and vulnerability by ensuring they can manage and conserve natural resources as well as making sure they have the necessary resources to adapt appropriately.:- Training and educational programmes for women and girls that provide general information about disasters and strategies to cope with them should be strengthened.
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