Research from China reveals women more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change

Date: Monday, December 12, 2016

Author: Jenni Ratilainen

Beijing, China — On 12 December 2016, one-year anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, UN Women launched the new research report, “Gender Dimensions of Vulnerability to Climate Change in China” in Beijing. The research fills a crucial literature gap in the country and supports evidence-based discussion on the future of climate change and disaster reduction in China.

Ma Leijun, China Gender Fund Programme Officer from the UN Women China office moderated the launch event. Photo: UN Women/Yan Haoran

The research reveals that women in China are more vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change than men. Women have more limited access than men to resources for building resilience, including income, land, loans and access to off-farm employment. Women also have less skills training than men: 72 per cent of women and 46 per cent of men had never attended relevant training.

A gender ratio imbalance in knowledge of disaster emergency plans is also identified: 25 per cent of male respondents have this knowledge, whereas only 20 per cent of female respondents do.

The research team presented the report’s findings and recommendations at the event. Photo: UN Women/Yan Haoran

The report’s data was collected through a policy review, 84 interviews with government officials and NGOs, and a survey of over 3400 people in eight counties of Jiangsu, Qinghai and Shaanxi Provinces.

The research was initiated in China in 2015 against the background of increasing global data on gender disparities in the context of climate change and disasters. “Global evidence shows that when disasters strike, women tend to be affected more severely than men. This is because the prevailing gender inequalities across the world means that women are less likely to receive warning signals, escape dangerous situations quickly and safely, and are more likely to lose education and employment opportunities, and face violence,” said UN Women China Country Programme Manager Julie Broussard at the event.“The good news is that knowing the gender gaps is the first step towards fixing them,” she continued.

UN Women National Goodwill Ambassador Hai Qing spoke at the launch event. Photo: UN Women/Yan Haoran

The report’s findings also offer insights into gender inequalities in decision-making in the household, communities, and relevant institutions. UN Women National Goodwill Ambassador Hai Qing, who has participated in several global sustainable development meetings, took part in the report launch and said, “I wanted to be here today because I believe that sustainable development is about leaving no one behind. Women in China have so much potential. Not allowing women to have an equal say in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction is a missed opportunity.”

The report provides 15 recommendations for the next steps including:

  • Establishing collaboration between climate change and disaster institutions and agencies that have expertise in gender mainstreaming
  • Providing officials with gender analysis skills and training
  • Supporting women’s livelihoods and participation in decision-making.

The launch of the report was accompanied by a panel discussion on the way forward, with participants from the National Development and Reform Commission, Disaster Risk Reduction Center of the Ministry for Civil Affairs, All-China Women’s Federation, China Civil Climate Action Network Secretariat and UN Women Regional Office for the Asia-Pacific.

The event included a panel discussion among governmental and non-governmental agencies on the way forward. Photo: UN Women/Yan Haoran

China is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world. The pace of climate change in China has been greater than the global average. At the same time, in the recent years, China has positioned itself as a global climate change leader. For instance, China is the largest clean energy investor in the world.

The report was launched exactly one year after the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement was adopted in Paris. The treaty commits Parties to consider their respective obligations on gender equality and the empowerment of women when they take action to address climate change. It also mandates gender-responsive adaptation actions and capacity building activities. China ratified the Paris Agreement on 3 September 2016. The Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016.

The complete research report in both English and Chinese is available online at:

For more information:

Please contact: Jenni Ratilainen
Programme Analyst, UN Women China Office