Women protesting

The challenges posed by climate change cannot be met without also addressing gender issues. Because their lives are more vulnerable even under stable conditions, women face greater risks when climate-related impacts – droughts, floods, hurricanes – disrupt their communities.

Conversely, giving women more power over their lives typically results in more resilient communities. For these reasons, Yale Climate Connections has chosen to observe Women’s History Month by publishing a list of books and reports on gender and climate change.

The descriptions of the twelve works listed below are drawn from copy provided by the publishers or organizations that released them.

Gender and the environment

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Why Women Will Save the Planet, edited by Friends of the Earth (Zed Books 2015, 279 pages, $14.95)

This provocative collection gathers essays and interviews from the leading lights of the international environmental and feminist movements to mount a powerful case that gender equality is essential to environmental progress. In Why Women Will Save the Planet, Ecofeminists contributors like Vandana Shiva, Caroline Lucas, and Maria Mies lay out the ways in which women’s issues intersect with environmental issues, and they detail concrete steps that organizations and campaigners big and small can take to ensure that they are pursuing these goals in tandem. A rallying cry designed to unify – and thus strengthen – two crucial movements in the global fight for social justice, this book will spur action and, crucially, collaboration.

A second edition has been released in the UK; the date for the U.S. release has not been announced.

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Gender and the Environment, by Nicole Detraz (Polity Press 2016, 240 pages, $22.95 paperback)

This timely and insightful book explains why gender matters to the environment. Nicole Detraz examines contemporary debates around population, consumption, and security to show how gender can help us to better understand environmental issues and to develop policies to tackle them effectively and justly. Our society has different expectations of men and women, and these expectations influence the realm of environmental politics. Drawing on example from around the world, Gender and the Environment makes the case that it is only by adopting a more inclusive focus that embraces the complex ways men and women interact with ecosystems that we can move towards enhanced sustainability and greater environmental justice on a global scale.

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Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment, edited by Sherilyn MacGregor (Routledge 2017, 520 pages, $215.00)

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment provides critical analyses of the gender dimensions of a wide range of timely and challenging topics, from sustainable development and climate change politics, to queer ecology and interspecies. Presenting a comprehensive overview of the development of the field from early political critiques of the male domination of women and nature in the 1980s to the sophisticated intersectional and inclusive analyses of the present, the volume is divided into four parts: (I) Foundations, (II) Approaches, (III) Politics, policy and practice, (IV) Futures. This Handbook will serve as a vital resource for scholars, students, and practitioners in environmental studies, gender studies, human geography, and the social sciences.

Gender and climate change

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Gender and Climate Change: An Introduction, edited by Irene Dankelman (Routledge/Earthscan 2010, 312 pages, $44.95 paperback)

This new textbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the gender aspects of climate change. It starts with a short history of the thinking and practice around gender and sustainable development over the past decades. Next it provides a theoretical framework for analyzing climate change manifestations and policies from the perspective of gender and human security. Drawing on new research, the actual and potential effects of climate change on gender equality and women’s vulnerabilities are examined, both in rural and urban contexts. The final section looks at how far gender mainstreaming in climate mitigation and adaptation has advanced, the policy frameworks in place and how we can move from policy to effective action.

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Gender and Climate Change: Impacts, Science, Policy, by Joane Nagel (Routledge 2015, 264 pages, $39.95)

This timely and provocative book uses a gender lens to see what has been overlooked in popular discussion, research, and policy debates concerning climate change. We see that more women than men die in climate-related natural disasters; the history of science and war are intimately interwoven masculine occupations and preoccupations; and conservative men and their interests drive the climate change denial machine. We also see that climate policymakers who embrace big science approaches and solutions to climate change are predominantly male with an economic agenda that marginalizes the interests of women and developing economies. With vivid case studies, this book highlights the differential, gendered impacts of climate changes.

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Understanding Climate Change through Gender Relations, edited by Susan Buckingham and Virginie Le Masson (Routledge, 280 pages, $49.95)

This book explains how gender, as a power relationship, influences climate change related strategies, and explores the additional pressures that climate change brings to uneven gender relations. It considers the ways in which men and women experience the impacts of these in different economic contexts. Part I addresses conceptual frameworks and international themes concerning climate change and gender, and explores emerging ideas concerning the reification of gender relations in climate change policy. Part II offers a wide range of case studies from the Global North and the Global South to illustrate and explain the limitations to gender-blind climate change strategies.

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Armed Conflict, Women and Climate Change, by Jody M. Prescott (Routledge/Earthscan 2018, 258 pages, $42.95 paperback)

Little research has been conducted on the compounding effects that armed conflict and climate change might have on at-risk population groups such as women and girls. Armed Conflict, Women and Climate Change explores the intersection of these three areas and shows how military organizations across the world need to be sensitive to these relationships to be more effective in civilian-centric operations of humanitarian relief, peacekeeping and even armed conflict. This book examines strategy and military doctrine from NATO, the UK, U.S. and Australia, and explores key issues such as displacement, food and energy insecurity, and male out-migration as well as current efforts to incorporate gender considerations in military activities and operations.

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Planetary Solidarity: Global Women’s Voices on Christian Doctrine and Climate Justice, edited by Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Hilda P. Koster (Fortress Press 2017, 392 pages, $79.00)

Planetary Solidarity brings together leading Latina, womanist, Asian American, Anglican American, South American, Asian, European, and African woman theologians on the issues of doctrine, women, and climate justice. Because women make up the majority of the world’s poor and tend to be more dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and survival, they are more vulnerable when it comes to climate-related changes and catastrophes. Using doctrine as interlocutor, this book ask how Christian doctrine might address the interconnected suffering of women and the earth in an age of climate change. It reexamines ideas of creation, the triune God, anthropology, sin, incarnation, redemption, the Holy Spirit, ecclesiology, and eschatology.

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On Infertile Ground: Population Control and Women’s Rights in an Era of Climate Change, by Jade S. Sasse (New York University Press 2018, 224 pages, $27.00 paperback)

Since the turn of the millennium, American media, scientists, and environmental activists have insisted that the global population crisis is “back” – that the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change is to ensure women’s universal access to contraception. What is bringing the population problem back – and why now? In On Infertile Ground, Jade S. Sasser explores how a network of development actors, including private donors, NGO managers, scientists, and youth advocates, is bringing population back to the center of public environmental debate. While these narratives never disappeared, Sasser argues, histories of human rights abuses, racism, and a conservative backlash against abortion in the 1980s drove them underground – until now.

See also Climate Change and Gender Justice edited by Geraldine Terry (Oxfam International 2011, 213 pages, free download available)

Gender at the Poles

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The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Fight to Protect the Arctic and Save the Planet from Climate Change, by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (University of Minnesota Press 2018, 328 pages, $22.95 paperback)

The Right to Be Cold is the human story of life on the front lines of climate change, told by a woman who rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most influential Indigenous environmental, cultural, and human rights advocates in the world. Raised by a single mother and grandmother in the small community of Kuujjuaq, Quebec, Watt-Cloutier describes life in the traditional ice-based hunting culture of an Inuit community and reveals how Indigenous life, human rights, and the threat of climate change are inextricably linked. The Right to Be Cold is at once the intimate coming-of-age story of a remarkable woman and a stirring account of an activist’s powerful efforts to safeguard Inuit culture, the Arctic, and the planet.

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Antarctica as Cultural Critic: The Gendered Politics of Scientific Exploration & Climate Change, by Elena Glasberg (Palgrave 2012, 204 pages, $89.99 paperback)

A new look at the “forgotten” continent, Antarctica as Cultural Critique arrives at an auspicious time in history and on earth. Amid the centennial celebrations of the European “race” to the last place on earth, Antarctica is finally emerging as a center of global concern. Antarctica as Cultural Critique connects the ice of environmental crisis to its past as an impediment to progress through visualizations and photographs of what Ursula Le Guin calls the “living ice.” Glasberg opens new ways of thinking human/non-human divides that disturb assumptions about gender and progress under scientific management, and about attachments to a heroic past that does not take into consideration the radically non-human and shifting ontology of ice itself.

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The Secret Lives of Glaciers, by M. Jackson (Green Writers’ Press 2019, 224 pages, $24.95)

The Secret Lives of Glaciers explores just what happens when a community’s glaciers slowly disappear. Meticulously detailed, each chapter unfolds complex stories of people and glaciers along the southeastern coast of Iceland, exploring the history of glacier science and the world’s first glacier monitoring program, the power glaciers enact on local society, perceptions by some in the community that glaciers are alive, and the conflicting and intertwined consequences of rapid glacier change on the cultural fabric of the region. Powerfully written, The Secret Lives of Glaciers reaches beyond Iceland and touches on changing glaciers worldwide, revealing oft-overlooked interactions between people and ice throughout human history.

Michael Svoboda, Ph.D., is the Yale Climate Connections books editor. He is a professor in the University Writing Program at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he has taught since...