Scientific Publication

Youth, Gender and Climate Resilience: Voices of Adolescent and Young Women in Southern Africa


In contrast to the dominant ‘vulnerability narrative’ applied to studies of gender, age, and other intersectional characteristics in determining differentiated impacts of climate change, there is growing attention to the agency and voices of young people in the context of their development futures in a changing climate. This paper draws on Feminist Participatory Action Research undertaken by adolescent girls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Centred on access to education, the findings prompt a reframing of youth agency and empowerment beyond instrumental concerns to integrate intrinsic factors that include self-fulfilment, recognition from others, status, and self-resilience. The research demonstrates how young people’s enquiry can help to surface the underlying structures of inequality shaping both their gendered experience of climate change and the response options available. Tackling structural issues may be beyond the conventional scope of climate change projects and policy, but gender and youth concerns require more than incremental changes. Rather, harnessing opportunities from low-carbon and climate-resilient futures requires understanding and tackling structural drivers of gender inequality that influence development opportunities for young people. This is an output of the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) programme