The climate crisis is a feminist issue: there is no just transition without equality

Gender dimension of the climate crisis EPSU report March 2022

(7 March 2022) Gender oppression is one of the injustices that is deeply intertwined with the climate crisis. Every day, especially in poor communities worldwide, women and girls face inequalities that are exacerbated by the negative effects of climate change. If we are to achieve a just and inclusive transition, and avoid deepening divides, a gender-sensitive approach on all actions on the climate crisis is imperative.

So far, the instruments adopted by the EU have failed to address the relationship between gender and climate. The space reserved to this connection in the Climate Law and Adaptation Strategy, and EU Just Transition Fund is highly insufficient. While the need to address the issues of food and energy poverty is recognized, the disproportionate impact on women - especially older women, single mothers and migrant families - is not taken into account. A just and inclusive transition cannot be achieved with recognition alone: instead, a serious political commitment to address inequalities is needed.

When it comes to climate adaptation policies, especially in female dominated sectors such as health care, public investment is crucial to improve jobs and social protection against poverty and income loss. Just and inclusive transition policies need to address gender inequalities at their roots, while adapting and reducing emissions.

Along these lines, the energy sector is particularly vulnerable and it represents one of the central challenges for a just transition but enough attention has to be paid to the disproportionate impact of energy poverty on women.

A just and inclusive transition needs purposeful policy commitments that go way beyond what has been proposed in the European Green Deal. To achieve a feminist transition it means to pursue policies for an improvement of women’s working conditions and environmental protection jointly, and addressing gender inequality as part of it. What we need are progressive policies to tackle the issue of reducing emissions while at the same time challenging existing structural inequalities.

There is no just transition without equality and EPSU calls on EU Institutions and national Governments to:

  • Include a real gender analysis and transform it into a gender action plan in their national transition programmes, recalling that adding the words “women” and “gender” in some introductory remarks is not enough. We want equality, not pink-washing.
  • Promote equality and participation of women and gender experts in all decision making bodies and works councils, at all levels: a more balanced participation will support a better understanding and consideration of equality needs
  • Invest in women dominated sectors such as health, care and social services as part of climate adaptation policies. Promote the recruitment of women into until now male-dominated roles in e.g. the energy sector. Adapting to climate change will also mean invest in those jobs that will be impacted by the consequences of climate disaster (migration, displacement, diseases..)
  • Recognise that energy poverty impacts predominantly women who are too often left along to stem increasing energy prices resulting from ever further liberalisation. Ensure all necessary support, including financial, is deployed for them.

EPSU Report Gender equality, the climate crisis and the European Green Deal (EN)

Summary Report (EN - FR - DE - ES - SV - RU)