This brief explains CARE’s approach to adaptation, which incorporates activities that challenge gender norms to increase people’s resilience to climate hazards. The ability of women to manage climate crises is constrained by an inequitable distribution of rights, resources and power. Women’s empowerment and climate adaptation can be mutually reinforcing: women are more risk averse than men, more open to advice and more willing to change strategies in response to new information.
A particular climate hazard, such as drought, does not affect all people within a given community or household equally. A gender-transformative approach involves empowering both women and men so that they can challenge and change deeply rooted inequalities.
The inequitable distribution of rights, resources and power constrains the ability of women (and marginalised poor men) to take action on climate change. It also means that women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than men. Furthermore:
- Climate change increases inequalities and makes it more difficult for women to realise their basic rights.
- Many women are denied access to new information about climate change and are prevented from participating in important decision-making processes despite having unique skills and vital knowledge.
CARE’s climate adaptation approach addresses agency (aspirations and capabilities), relations (the power relations through which a path is negotiated), and structure (the environment that surrounds and conditions choices). It begins with a comprehensive, participatory and gendered analysis of differential vulnerability due to social, political and economic inequalities. CARE’s approach:
- Recognises differential vulnerability within countries, communities and households.
- Aims to empower vulnerable women and girls to build their adaptive capacity.
- Is planned and implemented with the participation of women, men and the most vulnerable groups in the community.
- Promotes adaptation policies and programmes at local, national and international levels that meet the specific needs of poor women and men.
- Supports men and women to access the resources, rights and opportunities they need to adapt to their changing environment.