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Gender: the missing component of the response to climate change

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Y. Lambrou
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The gender aspects of climate change have generally been neglected in international climate policy. This report, produced by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), argues that gender, like poverty, is a cross cutting issue in climate change and needs to be recognised as such. Particularly in developing countries, women generally have lower incomes than men, they often have limited control of resources, and they have less access to information and decision making authority. Their ability to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change is thus lower than that of men. Focusing solely on women's vulnerability may be misleading however, since women often have particular skills, coping strategies and knowledge that can be used to minimise the impacts of environmental change. Any environmental policy should therefore recognise women as key players, particularly given their role as natural resource managers. At the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 11), held in Montreal in December 2005, representatives of women's groups presented a short petition with some gender-specific recommendations to women environment ministers. This report concludes that it is crucial for women to continue to lobby national negotiators in the next stage of climate change negotiations, to press for the full integration of gender issues into the climate change agenda.