CLIMATE CHANGE AND GENDER BASED VIOLANCE (GBV)
With the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC
predicted an increase in natural disasters and the subsequent devastation in communities
around the world, gender-based violence risks becoming an even bigger problem if it is not
Unfortunately, violence against women and girls is deep-rooted in our societies and the
international observance serves as a symbol of resistance as well as a call to action to eliminate
gendered physical, economic and psychological violence. The 2019 theme was ‘Orange the
World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape.’
Climate change is recognized as a serious aggravator of gender-based violence. Around the
world, climate change-induced crises have also been shown to worsen domestic violence,
whether in relation to sexual and reproductive health or discrimination against indigenous
Violence against women is not limited to developing countries. Research conducted into natural
disasters, such as bushfires and droughts, in one developed country found that they have
increased the risk of domestic violence in rural regions. One of the reasons for this is the social
and psychological pressure arising from loss of income resulting from the growing impact of
climate change on the agricultural sector.
It is also an issue that goes beyond domestic gender-based violence. A report by CARE found
that “in most disasters, women and girls are worst affected”. The report highlights that one out
of five women who are refugees or who have been displaced because of a natural disaster has
experienced sexual violence.
Climate action is therefore an essential component in the ongoing fight to eliminate violence
against women and girls. The world also needs greater involvement of women in climate action,
for example by putting an emphasis on gender mainstreaming in the policymaking process.
Tackling the issue of violence against women and girls is an important step towards achieving
the core objective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to leave no one
behind. This aligns with the need for gender equality and gender mainstreaming.
UN Climate Change continues to be a driving force in supporting gender equality in its process,
through the Gender Action Plan (GAP) and the Lima work programme on gender (LWGP).