A group of men and women sit around a table during a workshop in Uganda

Authors: Amy Dywer and Gabriel Nuckhir

Women, men and people of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations experience the impacts of climate change differently. They face distinct risks and vulnerabilities. They also face greatly varying social expectations and have access to different levels of power, which determines their ability to adapt and withstand the impact of climate change. As a result they adopt different responses to environmental stresses caused by climate change. These ‘gendered responses’ play a central role in influencing peace and conflict dynamics.

Women, men and people of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations experience the impacts of climate change differently. They face distinct risks and vulnerabilities.
Amy Dwyer
Head of Gender and Peacebuilding, Conciliation Resources

At Conciliation Resources, we have integrated a climate-responsive lens into our gendered conflict analysis methodology to further investigate this relationship and shape innovative programming in this area. 

Together with our partners in Karamoja in northern Uganda, we recently carried out a five-day analysis workshop with climate and gender specialists, young people, government representatives, community elders and civil society groups. This was the first opportunity that different groups have had to jointly analyse the interaction between gender, climate, and conflict to inform their own work.

Pastoralism - the practice of nomadic livestock herding between grazing sites - is the dominant economic livelihood and way of life for the Karamojong. However, our analysis revealed that climate change is leading to increasingly unpredictable drought and flooding in the region. At the same time, widespread land grabbing and confiscation for private businesses and governmental purposes is decreasing access to safe and fertile land for grazing cattle and growing crops.

Increased livestock mortality and food insecurity means that pastoralist communities are struggling to ensure their basic continued survival and to live according to their traditional identities and practices, since cattle are an irreplaceable ‘cultural currency’ used to facilitate important events, celebrations and rites of passage.

Our analysis particularly exposed the pressures faced by men against this backdrop, a dimension which is often neglected in research. Participants described how different groups in communities play a role in guiding, incentivising and shaming young men into violent inter-communal cattle theft and raiding. This is seen as one of the only routes left for men to deliver on their responsibilities both as providers for multiple households and protectors of pastoralist values.

We also found that these combined pressures are resulting in a change in gender relations. While this can have positive consequences for women, who are taking on increased leadership in diversifying income generating activities, it contributes to conflict in households as men confront a perceived loss of identity and manhood. 

On the other hand, the shared risks around extreme scarcity have driven cooperation among pastoralist sub-clans which previously did not engage constructively, providing unique opportunities for peacebuilding. 

In the coming months we will carry out similar analysis in Kashmir and Mindanao, and will use our findings to better understand how to design an integrated, gender-responsive approach to these interlocked challenges.

Read more about our gender, peace and security work here.


Image: Conciliation Resources' and partners from Karamoja, in northern Uganda, taking part in a workshop.

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) logo

This work has been funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).