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Gender equality in climate policy and practice hindered by assumptions

Abstract

Gender has a powerful influence on people’s experience of, and resilience to, climate change. Global climate change policy is committed to tackling gender inequalities in mitigation and adaptation. However, progress is hindered by numerous challenges, including an enduring set of gender assumptions: women are caring and connected to the environment, women are a homogenous and vulnerable group, gender equality is a women’s issue and gender equality is a numbers game. We provide an overview of how these assumptions essentialize women’s and men’s characteristics, narrowly diagnose the causes of gender inequality, and thereby propel strategies that have unintended and even counterproductive consequences. We offer four suggestions for a more informed pursuit of gender equality in climate change policy and practice.

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Acknowledgements

All authors acknowledge support from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University. This research was supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) led by WorldFish. The programme is supported by contributions from the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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J.D.L., D.K. and S.L. analysed literature. J.D.L., D.K., S.L. and P.J.C. conceptualized, wrote and edited the paper.

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Correspondence to Jacqueline D. Lau.

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Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Beth Bee, Anne Jerneck and Annet Mulema for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Lau, J.D., Kleiber, D., Lawless, S. et al. Gender equality in climate policy and practice hindered by assumptions. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 186–192 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-00999-7

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