Reporting climate change with a gender lens

From a journalism perspective there is a tendency of becoming overly technical when addressing climate changes. A useful way of reporting on this topic is to find cases in which the effects of climate change are being directly experienced and to tell the stories of the people affected. It is important to recognise that women experience the impacts of global climate change in a different manner from men.

UN Women describes women’s vulnerability to climate change as follows: “In many of these contexts, women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men—primarily as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. Furthermore, they face social, economic and political barriers that limit their coping capacity. Women and men in rural areas in developing countries are especially vulnerable when they are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood. Those charged with the responsibility to secure water, food and fuel for cooking and heating face the greatest challenges. Secondly, when coupled with unequal access to resources and to decision-making processes, limited mobility places women in rural areas in a position where they are disproportionately affected by climate change.”

The IFJ and the World Association of Christian Communications published in 2012 a learning toolkit on gender ethical journalism. A whole chapter is dedicated to reporting climate change with a gender lens.

It documents specific issues journalists should bear in mind when covering climate change and provides a series of tips and guidelines to fair gender portrayal in covering this topic.


1. avoid generalising the effects and impacts of climate change. Rather, distinguish between communities and groups that are more vulnerable, from those that are less so.

2. Identify the conditions that make women more vulnerable to effects of global climate change. Give details on these conditions.

3.It is correct and important to speak of “particularly vulnerable communities”and to identify them clearly.

4.Identify the livelihoods and resources that women have access to in a country or region and that have been affected by environmental phenomena. Doing so will pave the way to describing the effects such phenomena have on women’ssurvival.

5.Look for what is hidden or not overtly visible. Provide a context for information. If a case of violence, poverty, low level of schooling or migration emerges as a consequence of the effects of climate change (for example, a major flood that forces women to take shelter or migrate to places where their situation will worsen), it should be identified and articulated. Highlighting the linkages will help to provide a multi-dimensional and informative story

Read more here.

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