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Emergent Issues for Research, Policy and Practice

Gender and Climate Change

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Climate change is transforming countries the world over. India’s geographical location and agrarian economy is making it increasingly sensitive to climate change, intensifying and making more unpredictable the risks confronting people’s lives and livelihoods. Extreme weather conditions, ranging from floods to heatwaves and weak monsoons to unseasonal rains, are responsible for placing India fourth in the list of the 10 most affected countries globally on the Global Climate Risk Index (Sönke et al 2016: 7). The Indian National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) notes that the impacts of climate change could prove particularly severe for women (MoEF 2008). This issue of the Review of Women’s Studies seeks to explore the significance of this policy statement through a set of contextually embedded and gendered experiences of coping and adapting to varied manifestations of climate change.

Even though research and policy are often framed in terms of climate change impacts alone, our starting point for this analysis is the recognition that climate change aggravates pre-existing socio-economic vulnerabilities and risks, which the poor confront in their daily lives (Field et al 2014). Such “contextual vulnerability is based on a processual and multidimensional view of climate-society interactions” (O’Brien et al 2007: 76). Increasing scarcity of water and reduction in yields of forest biomass, for instance, result from climatic factors, but equally from policy incentives and signals that have encouraged their rapid exploitation and degradation. Whatever be the specific drivers, these changes are likely to have gendered effects, as women across social groups in rural households bear the primary responsibility for water collection and use, as well as biomass collection for cooking (Divya Susan Solomon and Nitya Rao, p 38; Dev Nathan, Manjula M, R Rengalakshmi and Govind Kelkar, p 79).

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Updated On : 3rd May, 2018

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