Gender in the Climate-Conflict Nexus: “Forgotten” Variables, Alternative Securities, and Hidden Power Dimensions

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Gender in the Climate-Conflict Nexus: “Forgotten” Variables, Alternative Securities, and Hidden Power Dimensions


  • Tobias Ide Institute of International Relations, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany / Department of Global Studies, Murdoch University, Australia
  • Marisa O. Ensor Justice and Peace Studies Program, Georgetown University, USA
  • Virginie Le Masson Centre for Gender and Disaster, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, UK
  • Susanne Kozak Centre for Gender, Peace and Security, School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Australia


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Abstract:  The literature on the security implications of climate change, and in particular on potential climate-conflict linkages, is burgeoning. Up until now, gender considerations have only played a marginal role in this research area. This is despite growing awareness of intersections between protecting women’s rights, building peace and security, and addressing environmental changes. This article advances the claim that adopting a gender perspective is integral for understanding the conflict implications of climate change. We substantiate this claim via three main points. First, gender is an essential, yet insufficiently considered intervening variable between climate change and conflict. Gender roles and identities as well as gendered power structures are important in facilitating or preventing climate-related conflicts. Second, climate change does affect armed conflicts and social unrest, but a gender perspective alters and expands the notion of what conflict can look like, and whose security is at stake. Such a perspective supports research inquiries that are grounded in everyday risks and that document alternative experiences of insecurity. Third, gender-differentiated vulnerabilities to both climate change and conflict stem from inequities within local power structures and socio-cultural norms and practices, including those related to social reproductive labor. Recognition of these power dynamics is key to understanding and promoting resilience to conflict and climate change. The overall lessons drawn for these three arguments is that gender concerns need to move center stage in future research and policy on climate change and conflicts.

Keywords:  Anthropocene; civil war; division of labor; environment; masculinity; protest; resources; social reproduction; violence; vulnerability

Published:   22 October 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i4.4275


© Tobias Ide, Marisa O. Ensor, Virginie Le Masson, Susanne Kozak. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.