Gender and Adaptation: An Analysis of Poverty and Vulnerability in Yunnan, China

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Vulnerability assessments are crucial tools in the design of policies and interventions that target climate change. These assessments enable policymakers and researchers to formulate clear and effective responses to context-specific vulnerabilities. Climate vulnerability is a socially constructed phenomenon, and as such may be experienced differently by men and women. Using the Livelihood Vulnerability Index, we examined how gender mediates climate vulnerability in five prefectures within Yunnan Province, southwest China. Yunnan Province is a hotspot of cultural and biological diversity. Because of Yunnan’s location at the base of the Tibetan Plateau, much of its population resides in high altitude rural areas, and istherefore particularly exposed to the effects of climate change. However, very little research has been conducted regarding gender and vulnerability in upland communities. Our analysis, conducted as part of the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP), revealed gender-specific differences in consumption patterns, lifestyles, access to and control of resources, decision-making, and power relations. This complex of factors is in turn linked to an increased vulnerability to climate change. Specifically, vulnerability to climate change in female-headed households was most strongly linked to education, health, and access to water. We also found that women were largely disenfranchised from local decision-making processes; as a result, responses to climate change at the local level may fail to take their needs, priorities and skills into account. These differences highlight the need for gender mainstreaming in climate change policies and practices.
Authors: Yufang, S.; Biondi, C.; Song, L.
Subjects: climate change, mitigation, gender
Publication type: Working Paper, Paper
Year: 20192019

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