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The European Union and Beyond

Does Gender Matter? The Impact of Gender on the Indian Climate-Change Discourse

Environmental Policy
Climate Change
Anja Zürn
Würzburg Julius-Maximilians University
Anja Zürn
Würzburg Julius-Maximilians University

Evidence shows, that climate change impact as well as the way of dealing with it are gendered. Men or women are perceived as technically affine or specifically vulnerable due to their socially constructed gender roles. From a poststructuralist view, different actors construct these roles discoursively through their hegemonic power.

The Indian climate discourse is multi-layered concerning both, its actors and themes. For some time now, gender aspects have been part of this discourse (partly explicit or implicit). For example, when it comes to sustainable solutions for adaptation to climate change or the special vulnerability of women. In addition, the Indian NDC as well as some Indian State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) are also briefly devoted to the topic of gender. If, however, these aspects are broken down purely into this topic, important structures are overlooked: Power relations that reproduce these structures and also make them possible. A critical and therefore power-sensitive analysis is needed.

The discourse, which is the subject of investigation, contains several aspects such as the right to develop and climate justice at the same time. It is marked by various dichotomies such as regulation vs. sovereignty and economic interests vs. environmental protection. Since the activities of the Chipko movement in the 1970s or the hiding behind the poor debate in the early 2000s, gender plays an increasingly important role in the Indian climate change discourse. This discourse shapes the Indian identity in the framework of climate change policy - on the national and the international level.

The paper explores whether references to gender can be found in the Indian climate change discourse. By courtesy of a poststructuralist discourse analysis – with a wide understanding of discourse (Laclau/Mouffe 1985), which includes both the spoken and the written word, as well as social practices – I will deconstruct the Indian discourse on cli-mate change. This will lead to a critical analysis of the identity of India in the framework of its national and also its international climate change policy. The aim of this paper is twofold: First, it offers a deconstruction of the Indian identity. Second, the paper will analyse whether the explored gender-aspects are part of specific gendered discourses, which are able to (re-)shape the Indian identity and therefore influence Indian climate change policy.
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