Human Rights and the Gender Dynamics of Climate Change

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Environmental problems affect peoples across the world, most especially marginalized and vulnerable groups, like women. Yet the plight of women who are disproportionately affected by impacts of environmental problems is not high on the priorities of many national governments. The chapter seeks to analyze women’s rights and issues in relation to the most pressing of environmental problems of our age – climate change. In the international field, the relationship between gender equality and the environment are not adequately discussed. While international organizations and non-government organizations have produced studies examining the link between gender issues and climate change, there is considerable lack of State reporting and country-specific data, not only concerning the effects of climate change on women, but also about State action to ensure the rights of women. This chapter examines the legal obligations of States pertaining to human rights of women in the context of climate change. It also considers the extent to which States and the international community, particularly the United Nations system, have addressed this issue. The study includes a discussion of the Sustainable Development Goals as the new way forward. Focus is given to Goal 5 on gender equality and Goal 13 on climate action, as well as other related goals such as Goal 1 on poverty, Goal 3 on good health and well-being, Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation, Goal 18 on life below water, Goal 15 on life on land, and Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.