Gender and Adaptation to Climate Change: Perspectives from a Pastoral Community in Gujarat, India

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Adaptation of rural communities to climate change has garnered much attention recently. Within this body of knowledge, two omissions are notable: first, while adaptation and coping responses of agricultural communities to climate variability and extremes are discussed extensively in rural planning, pastoral and agro-pastoral communities are neglected, homogenized, or considered ancillary to sedentarized agriculture. The mechanisms used by these communities to confront socio-economic and institutional limitations to climate adaptation remain relatively unexamined. Second, not much is known about pastoral women's perceptions of climate adaptation and coping. This article examines the socially situated perspective of women in the Maldhari pastoral community in Gujarat, Western India. Findings reveal that climate adaptation pathways traditionally utilized by the Maldharis are constrained by the institutional, policy and social context in which the community is placed, with specific impacts on women. The lack of recourse to traditional adaptation pathways in the face of climate vulnerability triggers coping responses for survival, livelihoods and food security, which produce gendered burdens especially in terms of women's work. Local perspectives thus shed light on how constraints to climate adaptation impact women in marginalized pastoral communities.

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Development and Change