Policy makers at COP27 must acknowledge the patriarchal norms of masculinities behind the climate crisis

The unequal and gendered impacts of the climate crisis are clearly evident. Yet, it is also important to recognise the gendered causes of the climate crisis. Namely, the norms that associate “being a man” with dominance, power-over, control, and self-interested competition.

Understanding how norms of masculinities relate to the climate and environmental emergency is an important aspect of addressing it. These norms are historically rooted in a European colonial logic; one that promotes cultures of male and masculine command over nature, and escalates inequalities around the world. This patriarchal and colonial mindset has been working for centuries to create the political and economic systems we see today – based on extraction, exploitation, unsustainable growth, and the consolidation of corporate power.

It is no coincidence that innately human characteristics that do not fit this way of thinking–such as care, compassion, collaboration, nurture, and balance–are often associated with femininity. They are the characteristics valued least, yet needed most, in the face of multiple global crises of wellbeing for all people, living beings and the planet.

The future we need to work towards is one in which all people can thrive in balance with the natural systems with which we all are interdependent

Reaching this vision will require us to transform patriarchal and colonial practices, policies, and mindsets. This includes transforming patriarchal norms of masculinity. It includes work to engage more men and boys–including men in positions of power–to care and act together with girls, women and people of all genders who lead the work for climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience.

We stand in solidarity with feminist, LGBTIQ, youth, indigenous and climate justice activists, organisations and movements. We urge all leaders, especially male in positions of power, to listen to, to learn from, and to center their voices, their leadership, and their political agendas.
We call on intersectional, accountable, feminist-informed work to transform patriarchal masculinities to address the climate crisis. It is time to take bold and transformative actions for climate, gender and social justice.

Political complacency, delay, and excuses must be seen for what they are: gross failures of leadership, and a tragic failure for humanity and all life on Earth. The international scientific community has long-established the magnitude and urgency of the climate crisis. Governments must heed their calls–and meet their prior international commitments–with the scale and urgency demanded by climate science and climate activists.

Click here for the MenEngage Alliance COP27 Political Agenda.


Illustration by: Olga Mrozek

14 November 2022