Gender and climate-induced migration

Veröffentlicht am: 14. Dezember 2023|Publikation, Artikel|Themen: , , |

Briefing paper by Isabella Szukits

The climate crisis affects millions of people worldwide. However, not everyone feels its effects equally. The main causes of global heating are the burning of fossil fuels and our current economic system, which is based on the exploitation of nature and people. People in the Global South and young people have not contributed as much to these causes, but they have to live with and deal with the effects.

Briefing paper (pdf): Gender & climate-induced migration


While a direct link between the climate crisis and migration decisions might not always be evident, research shows that the climate crisis acts as an exacerbating factor for pre-existing vulnerabilities that often lead to migration. Two primary drivers underpin human migration due to climate factors: slow-onset events and rapid-onset events. Slow-onset events include droughts, sea level rise, and desertification, resulting in loss of livelihoods over time. In contrast, rapid-onset events, for example hurricanes or flooding, necessitate immediate relocation. Even though climate related events like droughts and hurricanes have existed for a long time, it is undeniable that the effects of the human-made climate crisis have led to more climate catastrophes in frequency and intensity.


Migration doesn’t occur in a vacuum; it unfolds within societal contexts, and gendered dynamics are inherent to societies. This means that gender plays a role in shaping migration patterns including socio-economic and political factors such as poverty, discrimination, violence, and inequality, factors that are inherently intertwined with gender.


Moreover, the physical spaces are influenced by gender norms. Spaces women* and men* can occupy affects the range of opportunities available to them. However, it’s important to view gender not merely as a measurable variable, but as a framework of social relations that both organize and are influenced by mobility patterns.


The climate crisis acts as a threat multiplier, exacerbating existing challenges and even contributing to the emergence of conflicts. Research suggests that individuals dealing with climate variability might exhibit greater support for violent actions. While the link that the effects of the climate crisis directly lead to more conflict is moderate, the reverse relationship, i.e. climate vulnerability in times of conflict, is highly relevant. In this context, women*, who often engage in caregiving roles rather than combat, face particularly daunting challenges. Moreover, adaptation during war or conflict becomes much more difficult.


Briefing paper (5 pages) by Isabella Szukits: Gender & climate-induced migration (pdf)

Photo: „Vive les femmes!“ – Ndeye Yacine Dieng, a women´s rights and climate justice activist, Senegal
© Isabella Szukits

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