The gender perspective in climate change and global health
Background: Population health is a primary goal of sustainable development. United Nations international conferences like the Beijing Platform for Action have highlighted the key role of women in ensuring sustainable development. In the context of climate change, women are affected the most while they display knowledge and skills to orient themselves toward climate adaptation activities within their societies.
Objective: To investigate how the gender perspective is addressed as an issue in research and policy- making concerning climate change and global health.
Methods: A broad literature search was undertaken using the databases Pubmed and Web of Science to explore the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘health,’ ‘gender,’ and ‘policy.’ Climate change and health-related policy documents of the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Communications and National Adaptation Programs of Action reports submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of selected countries were studied. Assessment guidelines to review these reports were developed from this study’s viewpoint.
Results: The database search results showed almost no articles when the four terms were searched together. The WHO documents lacked a gender perspective in their approach and future recommenda- tions on climate policies. The reviewed UN reports were also neutral to gender perspective except one of the studied documents.
Conclusion: Despite recognizing the differential effects of climate change on health of women and men as a consequence of complex social contexts and adaptive capacities, the study finds gender to be an underrepresented or non-existing variable both in research and studied policy documents in the field of climate change and health.
The overall aspiration of this study is to generate awareness that, despite the recognition of the differential effects of climate change on health of women and men gender, is still an underrepresented variable in strategic planning and policy making on climate change and health. If health is a human right and is largely influenced by the jeopardy of gender, then there is a need to include a gender perspective in the still developing and evolving area of research and policy of impacts of climate change on global health. Efforts to introduce a gender perspec- tive in the climate and global health field must be evidence based and policy driven. The solutions lie in addressing the social beliefs and practices that are harmful for women physically, emotionally, or mentally. The need is to narrow the gaps by bridging the technological, social, and gender divides by creating pro-women orientation in strategic planning and policy making on climate change and health. Researchers and policy makers should be able to address the gender issues and create means for equal participation among women and men.