Brulé Examines How Climate Crises Alter Women’s Political Representation

Rachel Brulé, Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, published an article in the Politics & Gender – the leading field journal on gender within political science – on women’s political representation and how “climate shocks” can destabilize gendered social systems.

By looking at the case of South Asia – a region with high climate-induced out-migration and strong patriarchal norms – Brulé’s article, titled “Climate Shocks and Gendered Political Transformation: How Crises Alter Women’s Political Representation,” lays out her theory that climate shocks can enable an exceptional rerouting of patriarchy, whereby women work to reclaim public political space, with the potential to alter not only the gendered division of labor but also the gendered balance of power in public and private. Her piece studies the impact of disaster-induced male out-migration on women’s political participation and women’s willingness to compete as electoral candidates.

An excerpt:

In 2019, visible, “rapid onset” climate-related disasters displaced roughly 24.9 million people, with more than 143 million anticipated to be internally displaced by 2050 in Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa (Kaczan and Orgill-Meyer 2020). Not only can climate change induce migration, but, I argue, climate shocks—which I define as discrete, unanticipated destruction due to weather such as floods, drought, or windstorms—can also destabilize gendered social systems. Climate shocks can initiate political transformations that open new space for women in representative politics. Additionally, they can compel women to mobilize—as representatives and their supporters—to redirect local and national political agendas to respond to the vulnerabilities exposed by climate shocks.

The full article can be read on Politics & Gender‘s website. Politics & Gender is an agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on women, gender, and politics. It aims to represent the full range of questions, issues, and approaches on gender and women across the major subfields of political science, including comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and U.S. politics. 

Rachel Brulé is an Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and core faculty of the Global Development Policy Center’s Human Capital Initiative. Her research interests are broadly in comparative politics, international development, political economy, and gender, with a geographical focus on South Asia. Read more about Professor Brulé on her faculty profile.