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Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

The role of gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture

Enabling Frameworks

Overview

The impacts of climate change affect everyone.  However, not everyone is equally vulnerable, and not everyone has the same capacity to adapt to these impacts. It is clear that climate change will be felt by different groups of people in different ways. Due to differences in socially constructed gender roles and social status, women and men experience the impacts of climate change differently.

If climate-smart agriculture interventions are to deliver sustainable benefits and do so in an equitable way, they cannot afford to neglect these differences. Rural women are crucial to agricultural production. In developing countries, on average, women make up 43 percent of the agricultural labour force, ranging from about 20 percent in Latin America to often over 50 percent in Eastern and Southeastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. They also comprise 2/3 of the world’s small livestock managers. Between 1980 and 2010, the share of women employed in agriculture increased from about 30 percent to 43 percent in North Africa, and from 35 percent to 48 percent in the Near East (FAO, 2011). 

There is now a broad consensus that the constraints associated with gender inequality, which unfairly disadvantage and marginalize women in agricultural communities must be addressed to increase agricultural productivity, improve food and nutrition security, reduce poverty and build the resilience of rural populations. To make agricultural development climate-smart, a gender-responsive approach is needed to gain a nuanced understanding of the root causes of vulnerability and factors that determine adaptive capacity, and allow gender-based inequalities to be addressed effectively. Implementing programmes and strategies that address the differential needs and capacities of women and girls, and men and boys, and improve the social positions of women and vulnerable groups, is critical for making the transition to climate-smart agriculture and meeting the food and nutrition security needs of an expanding population in an equitable and sustainable way.  

This module draws on insights from the Gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture module of the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook (World Bank, FAO, IFAD, 2015) and other resources. It synthetises recent research evidence and experiences with climate-smart agriculture to provide guidance to a wide range of stakeholders on opportunities for future gender-responsive climate-smart agricultural investments and interventions. 

Key messages

  • Women are responsible for much of the world's food and agricultural production. They will play a pivotal role in climate change adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sectors.
  • Men and women differ in terms of how they experience the impacts climate change, the degree to which they are vulnerable to these impacts, and their capacity to adapt to them.
  • The costs and benefits associated with adopting climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices are not evenly distributed among household members. Gender analysis must be an integral part of climate-smart agriculture interventions.
  • It is essential to improve women’s access to resources, services, information and jobs, so that they can increase their productivity and contribute to meeting the objectives of climate-smart agriculture and broader development goals.
  • A gender-responsive approach to climate-smart agriculture helps identify and address the different constraints faced by various vulnerable groups, targets their specific needs and interests, and ensures that women, men, girls and boys can benefit equally from climate-smart interventions and that the outcomes of these interventions will be sustainable.