The Complex Ties that Bind: Gendered Agency and Expectations in Conflict and Climate Change-related Migration
For the past decade, western public discourse and the policy world have become increasingly concerned about ‘irregular’ migration and, to a slightly lesser extent perhaps, what driving role conflict and climate change play in triggering it. Addressing the causes and effects requires having a better understanding of the impacts that climate change has on multi-dimensional crises and the knock-on effect this has on migration.
A key factor in understanding how these processes affect different women, girls, men, boys and other gender identities is gender. Much of the analysis, however, has tended to be based on relatively simplistic teleological models and gender stereotypes. Based on case studies, this article argues for more nuanced understandings of how gender and other societal markers affect people differently in different contexts of crisis and climate change-related migration to better formulate policy responses.
Gender, in interplay with other social identity factors, is a key factor in determining people’s agency and vulnerability in times of crisis and resultant displacement. In spite of rich evidence of this, and of the complexities involved, policy responses and public discourses tend to approach it in a simplistic way, and as an add-on rather than a primary category of analysis. Taking gender, its contextual
specificities and intersectional and shifting nature into account will lead to more effective interventions and thereby a reduction of vulnerabilities and suffering.
Achieving this means going beyond simplistic stereotypes and embracing complexity, and will allow for a better understanding of lived realities, thereby leading to more targeted and effective interventions.