It is well established that climate change is not only an environmental challenge but also a social one, inextricably linked with socioeconomic issues like poverty, inequality, identity and marginalisation. In South Asian countries like India, where rapid and messy urbanisation and patriarchal social norms exacerbate vulnerability, the impacts of climate change are unevenly felt amongst communities, especially girls and women.
For example, information gaps and limited agency in decision making result in women having higher rates of mortality than men during extreme climatic events and reduced access to relief or assistance during recovery. Climate-induced stresses such as water scarcity, rising temperatures and increased prevalence of disease also have negative repercussions for maternal health and increase women’s time poverty, limiting their ability to improve their adaptive capacity to climate risks.
With rapid urban growth underway, Indian cities must plan to accommodate approximately 416 million more urban dwellers by 2050 while also planning for the acute impacts of climate change. Current approaches for building resilient cities have prioritised climate proofing infrastructure but have not challenged complex power structures which reproduce social inequities and continue to keep marginalised communities like girls and women at risk.
As visions of resilient futures guide urban climate actions, it’s essential that gendered perspectives are incorporated into planning and that issues of equity and inclusion are not excluded from climate planning.
Our second Dialogue takes a gendered approach to resilience planning, exploring how gender transformative approaches that address underlying inequities can contribute to visions of resilient cities, urban planning and climate adaptation in India.