Global Vantage Point Lecture Series: The Gendered Effects of Climate Change in The Global South

“How Understanding the Gendered Effects of Climate Change in the Global South can Help to Build a Climate Resilient Future”

Dr. Chesney McOmber, Adjunct Lecturer, University of Florida

Dr. McOmber’s Global Vantage Point Lecture, How Understanding the Gendered Effects of Climate Change in the Global South can Help to Build a Climate Resilient Future, examined the gendered impacts of climate change in the context of communities of the Global South.

Dr. McOmber explored four key dimensions of the way in which climate change is changing the gendered roles and the ways in which people adapt. Whilst Dr. McOmber interrogated Transformation and Adaptation and Resilience, her focus on Vulnerability and Development Intervention was particularly thought provoking.

In a discussion of Vulnerability, Dr. McOmber highlighted the ways in which climate change magnifies a lack of security. Questioning the audience of our thoughts, Dr. McOmber concluded that access to basic needs such as food, water, and land were made vulnerable as a direct result of climate change; further demonstrating that women were particularly susceptible. Furthermore, Dr. McOmber explained that vulnerability, as a gendered effect of climate change, catalyses a shift in livelihoods, migration and changes social networks and safety nets. Thus, informing the intensification of inequalities and the magnification of the inadequacies of state services.

Interrogating the challenges of Vulnerability for women in particular, Dr. McOmber portrayed that access to education, land and the consequences of dependency were exacerbated by climate change. In addition, Dr. McOmber demonstrated that gendered roles and responsibilities, the socially constructed division of labor, ensures women and men experience the effects of climate change differently.

Dr. McOmber posed an examination of Development Intervention in communities of the Global South. Highlighting the ways in which women can be empowered, Dr. McOmber detailed how interventions from development programs pushed for women’s agency in decision making roles in the household, as well as promoting access to Climate Information Services, farming input and climate smart agriculture to increase productivity and food security.

The issues concerning Development Intervention are connected to the wider challenges of the gendered effects of climate change. Dr. McOmber shared that within her research, in relation to the ICTs encouraged by organisations, the women were not empowered because the men ended up taking these resources. Furthermore, when the women were able to access these ICTs, they either couldn’t read the messages or didn’t trust the information that came from the men.

What these women needed was human interaction and to learn directly from others. Dr. McOmber demonstrated that the agency of the women was diminished once the men came in; exposing a much larger structural problem.

Dr. McOmber concluded the lecture proposing for a review of transformation. One of the limitations of development programs is that they seem to be more focused on the interests of donors, and meeting their timely deadlines with tangible, but often ineffective, outcomes so that they feel like their money is being put to use. Therefore, Dr. McOmber highlighted the need to recognize that transformation is not linear, nor simplistic but a very complex challenge that demands a multi-faceted approach.