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Women and girls, in all their diversity, play a critical role in addressing the climate crisis as we seek to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and build resilience to the impacts of climate change, high priorities of the United States that are reflected in our nationally determined contribution  and other efforts at home and abroad.  Research  shows that climate change does not affect women and men equally, with women suffering disproportionate impacts and experiencing underrepresentation in climate decision-making in all sectors and at all levels, which reduces the likelihood of their perspectives being incorporated and limits outcomes for all of society.  Climate change impacts are also compounded for women and girls of color, Indigenous women and girls, women and girls with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ persons, among others.  A deeper understanding of women’s and girls’ diverse needs, challenges, and opportunities is required to ensure effective responses to climate change.  Despite these challenges, women and girls around the world are leading efforts to mitigate, adapt to, and address the impacts of climate change.  This strategy outlines U.S. government efforts to empower women and girls politically, economically, and socially – and facilitate meaningful inclusion of their needs and perspectives in decision-making – as we seek to achieve a more equitable and sustainable future.

The nexus of gender equality and climate change can be categorized into three overarching themes that align with U.S. government policy priorities:  advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda; preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV); and promoting women’s economic security (WES).

Natural Resources, Conflict, and Fragility:

Due to gender inequality, conflict  and disasters adversely and disproportionately affect women and girls.  Climate change impacts, such as extreme weather events, food and water insecurity, and natural resource degradation, are threat multipliers and increase risks of displacement , migration, and conflict, especially in regions that suffer from instability.  In many parts of the world, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to these stressors, because their livelihoods and care work responsibilities depend on accessing climate-impacted resources (e.g., land, food, water, fuel) or controlling and maintaining those resources as smallholder farmers and informal natural resource managers.  As scarcity worsens, women and girls tend to be most impacted by food shortages and malnutrition and increasingly encounter insecurity and violence as they travel to far or unfamiliar destinations or experience resource competition.  Despite these threats, they are contributing to peace-building  and sustainability in their communities through locally informed, innovative solutions.  This gender-climate theme aligns with the U.S. government’s priority to advance the WPS agenda.

Gender-Based Violence and Social Impacts:

When climate-related disasters strike, women’s and girls’ economic and educational opportunities and access to health care services are disrupted, contributing to mortality and adverse health  impacts.  Climate change shapes the quantity, quality, and availability of basic resources, including those necessary to maintain menstrual health and hygiene.  Climate disasters and stressors heighten women’s and girls’ risks of experiencing GBV , whether in communities, the home, on migration or collection routes, or in temporary shelters.  Furthermore, as climate stressors threaten resources and livelihoods, women and girls are typically the first to forego food, and child, early, and forced marriages often increase as families feel pressure to reduce expenses.  Such economic insecurities induced by climate disasters and stressors can elevate the risk of trafficking in persons.  GBV also harms women’s and girls’ leadership and action in addressing the climate crisis and environmental challenges.  For example, in response to their efforts to promote accountability for governments and private sector actors, women environmental defenders  face increased risk of retaliation, threats, and violence online and offline.  This gender-climate theme aligns with the U.S. government’s priority to prevent and respond to GBV globally.

Innovation and Economic Participation:

It is critical to ensure that women and girls have the education, training, mentorship, assets, and financing to lead or work in the green (e.g., energy , transport, agriculture, forestry) and blue (e.g., fisheries, maritime transport, coastal resources) economies .  To access these opportunities, education and training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields must be emphasized.  Proactive efforts are key to facilitating women’s participation and leadership since they face myriad institutional, structural, and cultural barriers to their inclusion.  Whether through legal restrictions or social norms, some women are prohibited from working in relevant sectors, while others do not have the right to own land .  Women are overrepresented as workers in many industries that have a direct impact on or are directly impacted by climate change (e.g., agriculture, fishing, garment industries, tourism), presenting opportunities for women’s climate innovation while simultaneously challenging their livelihoods.  Women’s access to and uptake of climate-smart technologies remains limited, including for women smallholder farmers , who often do not have land rights or deeds.  This gender-climate theme aligns with the U.S. government’s priority to promote WES.

To empower women and girls as climate leaders and to strengthen their climate resilience, the United States has integrated cross-cutting climate action and gender equality priorities into several landmark strategies, policies, and initiatives.  Addressing the nexus of gender and climate change is a priority of the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality  (NGS) (strategic priority 8), the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally (objective 2.7), and the Gender Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund.  The U.S. Strategy on Global Women’s Economic Security recognizes climate change as a context-setting factor, while the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017  and U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security seek to integrate women into conflict and disaster prevention, preparedness, and response.  The President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience  (PREPARE) brings the full force of 19 federal agencies to advance adaptation in climate-vulnerable countries and addresses long-standing climate challenges that disproportionately affect women and others who have historically been excluded.  Other relevant policy frameworks and initiatives include, but are not limited to:  the Adaptation Communication of the United States , Global Fragility Act , U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment , U.S. Government Global Food Security Strategy , U.S. Global Water Strategy , and the White House Action Plan on Global Water Security .

  • Integrate efforts to advance gender equality and promote climate change adaptation, mitigation, and resilience.
  • Address impacts of climate change on and advance meaningful participation of women and girls by linking climate security with the WPS agenda, preventing and responding to GBV, and promoting WES.
  • Empower women and girls as leaders in generating climate change solutions through policy, diplomacy, outreach, and programming.


Address how aspects of an individual’s identity intersect to create different experiences of discrimination and privilege.  Consider the historic, sociocultural, and systemic disadvantages and power imbalances members of different groups face, and recognize their strength, resilience, and leadership in developing tailored solutions.

Locally Led:

Build partnerships with local stakeholders, including individuals, communities, networks, organizations, private entities, and governments, and enable them to set their own agendas and co-create solutions.  This includes engaging men and boys as partners in advancing gender equality in the context of climate change.

Do No Harm:

Commit to principles of safety, respect, confidentiality, and non-discrimination in all our work to take care not to put survivors, program participants, staff, and community members at physical or emotional risk.

The U.S. government is committed to advancing a two-pronged approach to efforts related to women and climate change:  (1) address disproportionate impacts of the effects of climate change on women and girls; and (2) empower women and girls as leaders in addressing climate change.  The following priority lines of effort integrate objectives set forth in the NGS, U.S. Strategy on WPS, U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to GBV Globally, U.S. Strategy on Global WES, and PREPARE, and their advancement necessitates ongoing engagement in multilateral forums and with civil society experts and practitioners.

Implementation and accountability for this United States Strategy to Respond to the Effects of Climate Change on Women will be achieved through two reporting channels, coordinated by the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and counterparts at the U.S. Department of State:  (1) Formal updates will be provided through established reporting processes for relevant U.S. government strategies with aligned objectives; and (2) Informal, quarterly updates will be provided through an interagency working group facilitated by the White House Gender Policy Council and National Security Council.

Policy, Diplomacy, and Outreach (PDO)

PDO1:  Reduce barriers that impede women’s and girls’ abilities to engage or lead in climate change and natural resource decision-making, peace-building, and relief and recovery at local, sub-national, national, and international levels.

PDO2:  Anticipate and address increased risks of GBV and threats to well-being resulting from climate-related disasters, natural resource scarcity, or efforts to protect the environment and deploy climate solutions.

PDO3:  Promote women’s access to green and blue economy jobs and facilitate women’s and girls’ climate entrepreneurship and innovation, including in STEM fields, to advance energy and other industrial transitions toward sustainability and improve women’s economic security.

PDO4:  Amplify the work and voices of women and girls leading climate change adaptation, mitigation, and resilience efforts in all sectors and at all levels.

Programming (PRG)

PRG1:  Continue developing and funding programs, including through the GEEA Fund, that advance women’s and girls’ climate leadership by facilitating training for and access to green and blue jobs, creating climate-smart entrepreneurship opportunities, addressing climate change-related GBV, or promoting women’s access to climate finance.

PRG2:  Maximize efforts to build collaboration across climate change programming and gender equality programming via program design, implementation, and evaluation that integrates best practices from each field (e.g., gender diversity and balance, gender analysis, climate risk assessments, sex-disaggregated data collection, environment and gender monitoring indicators).

PRG3:  Invest in programs that advance land rights for women, with emphasis on Indigenous women, enabling their economic security and ability to conserve and protect land and resources, including efforts to reduce deforestation, overgrazing, and land degradation.

Capacity Building (CB)

CB1:  Institutionalize PDO and PRG efforts on the nexus of gender equality and climate change through consistent interagency coordination, as well as coordination within departments, agencies, and bureaus, as appropriate.

CB2:  Increase awareness and understanding of the nexus of gender equality and climate change, as well as its ability to impact both gender equality and climate change priorities, within departments, agencies, and bureaus.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future