Nepal, like many other places around the earth, is feeling the deleterious impact of human-caused climate change—there is an increasing threat of food insecurity, of glacial lake outburst floods, and of harm to Nepal’s richly diverse forests.
A new Case Study: Gender and Climate Change in the Hindu Kush Himalayas of Nepal commissioned by WEDO and produced by Brigitte Leduc, Arun Shrestha, and Basundhara Bhattarai of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) accomplishes three things: it relays basic information about climate change in Nepal, it examines the conditions under which the women in Nepal live, and it makes recommendations for future action.
According to the study—which is part of a national advocacy pilot project undertaken by WEDO to mainstream gender into climate change policy-making and activity implementation in developing countries—gender is an integral part of environmental policy, and any viable climate change strategy in Nepal needs to be gender-sensitive.
The authors describe how climate change reveals and intensifies preexisting problems of gender inequity. As the case study makes clear, women in Nepal live in a society with cultural norms that largely privilege men—women have lower literacy rates, less access to political power, and as the primary collectors of water and fuel wood, are in a more vulnerable position than men to changing ecosystems.
As women are equipped with fewer resources to successfully adapt to changing ecosystems, it is imperative that gender policies be integrated into the official discourse surrounding climate policy. This document makes clear the importance of empowering Nepalese women and the communities in which they live to maintain control over their land and livelihoods.