Gender in the Climate-Conflict Nexus: “Forgotten” Variables, Alternative Securities, and Hidden Power Dimensions
The literature on the security implications of climate change, and in particular on potential climate-conflict linkages, is burgeoning. Up until now, gender considerations have only played a marginal role in this research area. This is despite growing awareness of intersections between protecting women’s rights, building peace and security, and addressing environmental changes. This article advances the claim that adopting a gender perspective is integral for understanding the conflict implications of climate change. We substantiate this claim via three main points. First, gender is an essential, yet insufficiently considered intervening variable between climate change and conflict. Gender roles and identities as well as gendered power structures are important in facilitating or preventing climate-related conflicts. Second, climate change does affect armed conflicts and social unrest, but a gender perspective alters and expands the notion of what conflict can look like, and whose security is at stake. Such a perspective supports research inquiries that are grounded in everyday risks and that document alternative experiences of insecurity. Third, gender-differentiated vulnerabilities to both climate change and conflict stem from inequities within local power structures and socio-cultural norms and practices, including those related to social reproductive labor. Recognition of these power dynamics is key to understanding and promoting resilience to conflict and climate change. The overall lessons drawn for these three arguments is that gender concerns need to move center stage in future research and policy on climate change and conflicts.