Gender and Climate Change in Viet Nam

Posted on | februari 16, 2011 | No Comments

Addressing gender-specific impacts of climate change in Viet Nam has been identified as a cross-sectoral issue in the UN‟s work with the Government of Viet Nam.

This study aims to raise awareness and trigger discussion that would feed into ongoing policy work on climate change at the national and global levels, and also into programming.

The study was commissioned by the UN Viet Nam Programme Coordination Group (PCG) on Gender, in the context of development of the action plans of the National Target Programme on Responding to Climate Change (NTP).

The study presents gender dimensions of climate change impacts and responses based on international and Vietnamese literature, including current policy responses, and proposes additional research. It constitutes desk-based analysis of available data on climate change, disaster risk reduction, and poverty reduction.

The study examines gender and vulnerability to climate change in terms of access to resources, diversity of income sources and the social status of women and men in communities. The analytical framework focuses on climate change and its effects on three roles of women: the productive role (especially women‟s livelihoods including migration); the reproductive role (especially women‟s health and security); and community and politics (particularly women‟s capacity and participation).

The study analyzes the specific and interrelated implications of the impacts of climate change on specific aspects of women‟s roles.

The study’s first part examines the impacts of climate change on women in the areas of livelihoods, migration and health. Women are concentrated in agriculture and/or are self-employed, and participate in most production activities though they have less access to, and control over the resources that they depend upon for providing food and income, compared to men. Long-term gradual climate change will affect agricultural and ecological systems. Because they are more dependent on land and natural resources for their livelihoods, women are more vulnerable to resource scarcity. Migration is increasing because of the increased severity of the effects of natural disasters as a result of climate change. Women who migrate often earn less than men and yet remain responsible for domestic and reproductive work. Women left behind when other family members migrate will be particularly affected, as they will have to take over male responsibilities without equal access to resources such as land and credit.

In addition, more women die than men from the direct and indirect results of natural disasters. Children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. The elderly are at the highest risk from climate

change-related health impacts like heat stress and malnutrition. With existing patterns of gender discrimination, both women and girls suffer more during, and in the aftermath of natural disasters. The second part of the study explores adaptation strategies and women’s participation in climate-related disaster management at the local level. Women, especially poor women, have a limited range of coping strategies.

The main constraints to women‟s resilience are inadequate resources and limited access to and control over land, credit and information. Women often have less say in decision making related to natural resources and disaster management, despite their role and experiences in these areas. It is argued that using women’s knowledge and experience more fully would bring benefits to communities, households and women themselves. The third part of the study provides insights into climate change policy and gender issues.

The NTP emphasizes gender equality as one of the guiding principles. However, women‟s involvement in the discussions and consultations in the process of the NTP‟s development was limited, and concrete gender targets have not been formulated. The UN, donors and international NGOs, in collaboration with the Government, local authorities and national NGOs, work on several projects and plan analytical work on social aspects of climate change, including gender relationships. However, the challenges remain, of limited knowledge of gender and climate change, and limited analytical skills for policy formulation and actions related to equitable climate change responses.

Future research on gender and climate change is needed in five areas:

a) gendered impacts, adaptation strategies to increase resilience, and priorities of women and men in different contexts, including rural livelihoods related to agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry and fisheries/aquaculture, as well as livelihood strategies in urban settings;
b) impacts of climate change on gender roles and relations at the household level, including links between severe stress from natural disasters and violence against women and girls;
c) the links between climate change, gender and migration;
d) barriers to women’s participation in decision making on responses to climate change at the household and community level; and
e) best practices for gender-sensitive responses to climate change-related disasters in rural and urban settings, including ensuring equal access to health services.

UNIFEM Vietnam Gender and Climate Change

AUTHOR: Tran Van Toan


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