Women who Go, Women who Stay: Reactions to Climate Change

All rights reserved.


Women who Go, Women who Stay: Reactions to Climate Change

Image removed.

Flooded kindergarten. López Mateos, Mazatán Municipality, September 2010
Photo: Nestor Quintana de León 

A Case Study on Migration and Gender in Chiapas

March 28, 2011
Jenny Jungehülsing


Climate change is the biggest environmental problem currently confronting humanity and affecting all socioeconomic sectors in the country and around the world. Its impact, however, is differentiated by gender, economic, social and geopolitical factors. Its effects reveal and accentuate even more the already enormous social injustice and inequality prevailing in most developing countries, affecting the groups in the population with the fewest resources and the least power.

One of the different strategies used by individuals to confront the effects of climate change is migration, a phenomenon still only minimally studied. The exact magnitude of climate migration is not known, partly due to the difficulty in isolating climate change and environmental deterioration from other variables influencing migration—especially economic variables. Projections for the future vary drastically, with estimates of between 25 million and one billion climate migrants around the world by the year 2050.

Both migration and climate change are becoming increasingly important in public and political agendas, and in research. Nevertheless, the gender perspective is almost completely absent in this discussion. In the analysis conducted on the relationship between climate change and migration, differences between men and women in migration, used as a strategy for adaptation, have not been addressed thus far.

It is for this reason that, at the Foundation, we want to contribute to this debate. Our contribution at this time is this case study in which interviews were conducted with women and men in six communities in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Although this is not a representative study, but rather a qualitative study conducted in homes and limited to a specific region, we believe that the results provide interesting and valuable indications regarding the strategies used by women and by men to adapt to climate change—with some of them including elements for diminishing the inequality gaps between women and men.

Ingrid Spiller
Representative of Heinrich Böll Stiftung
Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

Click here to read Women who Go, Women who Stay (72 pages, pdf, 7.7MB)