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Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

The role of gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture

Enabling Frameworks

Data and information needs for gender-responsive climate-smart agriculture and key elements of a gender-sensitive indicator framework

Data required for gender analysis and gender-responsive interventions can be collected from different sources, using various methods and tools, such as sex-disaggregated statistics (if available), meetings, discussion with focus groups, key informant interviews and other participatory data collection methods. It is important to combine quantitative and qualitative data to understand the points of view of men and women and different stakeholders. A combination of quantitative and qualitative data is also required to carry out triangulation, a process that uses different data collection methods and compares data from different sources to obtain a more reliable and comprehensive understanding of the local context. The results of this data collection help stakeholders make informed decisions about the most effective project activities and how to implement and monitor their impact by incorporating gender-sensitive indicators throughout the project's life cycle. Some useful approaches are described below.

Quantitative methodologies

Quantitative methods are mostly applied when evaluating, examining and integrating data from a large amount of information obtained through standardized questionnaires. An important requirement for conducting an empirical study is the employment of detailed and reliable surveys. Researchers use the responses to these questionnaires to isolate the causal relations between a social or agricultural phenomenon and environmental events. For surveys exploring gender relations in the context of climate-smart agriculture, data from individuals should be collected with a common identifier for all the members in the same household to track common characteristics and features. It is important to focus on all the determinants of gender-differentiated adoption of climate-smart agriculture.

Data collection needs to highlight:

  • climate-smart agriculture practices adopted by individual men and women;
  • women’s accessibility to resources and agricultural technology;
  • women’s labour status and legal rights;
  • land ownership and conditions for both men and women; and
  • social norms and other factors that influence women and men farmers’ livelihood strategies.

Approaches that use data obtained through household surveys depend on the availability and quality of information on the specific constraints and outcomes of interest to women and men, as well as on climate-related shocks and events.

Many quantitative studies combine traditional household surveys that include Global Positioning System (GPS) data of households and communities with other geocoded data on rainfall, soil quality, and other agro-climatic characteristics (e.g. Asfaw and Maggio, 2015). An increasing number of studies using GPS data on communities and land parcels can visually pinpoint vulnerable areas. This has useful applications for the formulation of policies related to gender and climate change (Kilic et al., 2013).

The use of both socio-economic quantitative data and spatial data can quickly shed light on areas and communities that are the most affected by depletions of natural resources and variations in climate. This technique, referred to as vulnerability mapping, can also help indicate whether women agricultural producers are more at risk to changes in climate.

These techniques can also reveal the extent to which gender differences in agricultural productivity and adaptation strategies can be explained by different constraints, such as limited access to credit and markets, and/or inadequate infrastructure. Household panel data, which involves collecting data from the same households over time, can help increase the understanding of the dynamic processes that shape household agricultural production, income and consumption over several years. They can also reveal the gender-differentiated progression of adaptive strategies to climate change and their outcomes over time.

Qualitative methodologies and participatory frameworks

In any climate-smart agriculture intervention, broad-based participation is crucial for achieving sustainable outcomes. Ultimately, it is the local stakeholders who will be responsible for implementing the climate-smart agriculture activities and practices. Extensive community participation enhances self-reliance and local ownership of outcomes, and increases the likelihood of success. Qualitative approaches for gathering data and information can help foster community participation. In qualitative approaches, respondents can express opinions freely without the constraints imposed by pre-determined questionnaires. This can give a clearer picture of the roles and needs of women and men, household dynamics, and other sensitive topics. 

Many participatory approaches have been developed based on analyses of socio-economic patterns and the identification of women’s and men’s priorities and potential. These participatory approaches include tools that can help provide an accurate account of community dynamics and the relationships between the different social, economic and environmental factors that shape these dynamics.

A number of dedicated training guides offer insights on how to conduct gender-responsive and socially sensitive climate change research and development interventions in the agriculture and food security sectors. The two manuals listed below provide practical guidance on participatory approaches:

In general, qualitative approaches are characterized by the use of small, often targeted (rather than random) samples. They gather information through relatively unstructured conversations and interviews, instead of using fixed questionnaires, with both women and men from different socio-economic groups. The potential weaknesses of qualitative approaches are associated with difficulties in ensuring their statistical representativeness and the generalization of findings. 

Focus group discussions and interviews are some of the tools used in qualitative methodologies. Interview work is conducted at the community level using well-trained facilitators to guide the discussions and get a clear picture of why a service is or is not meeting the needs of a particular user group. The sampling procedure should try to capture the 'true averages' of the population targeted by the intervention and use a control group as well. Focus groups, while limited to small samples, can be an important tool for understanding the different perceptions women and men have regarding coping strategies, the adoption of new technologies, and the conservation of natural resources. This information can be valuable at the household level and the community level, and shed light on gender gaps in decision-making in agriculture in both spheres. Other topics that can be addressed include the differences in priorities between women and men in how they use their time, and the trade-offs they make when undertaking other productive work both within and outside agriculture. 

Disaggregating agricultural outcomes by distributional effects and regional aspects is also important from a policy-making standpoint, as it can shed light on the differences among various socio-economic groups and across regions. This is especially important given the growing impact of climate change on the livelihoods of rural areas, and ongoing questions about which geographical areas and social groups (including women) are most affected. 

Applying these qualitative approaches allows for the collection of gender-sensitive information during the project identification and design phase and gender-responsive project implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

Gender-sensitive indicators

Gender-responsive indicators measure the status and roles of women and men, and changes in gender relations in the household and communities over time. Examples of indicators related to performance of a particular climate-smart agriculture practice or technology include the numbers of women and men engaged in testing or applying practices; and measurements of the expected long-term changes. These changes may include greater control over productive assets, higher rates of participation in decision-making, increased knowledge, positive changes in behaviour and attitude, awareness, empowerment, and improved economic status and food security and nutrition of women and men. 

Box C6.4 presents a list of indicators that can be used to monitor and analyse the gender-related impacts of climate-smart agriculture in the medium and long term. These indicators can form a basis of a gender-sensitive indicator framework for climate-smart agriculture interventions. Module C9 addresses monitoring and evaluation in greater detail.

Box C6.4  Selected gender-sensitive indicators for climate-smart agriculture

  • The number of gender-responsive technologies applicable for climate-smart agriculture
  • The rate of participation of men and women in the selection process for a climate-smart practice or technology
  • The number or percentage of women and men participating in climate-smart agriculture-related Farmer Field Schools or farmer-to farmer extension services
  • The proportion of services dealing with climate-smart agriculture, including credit services, that are accessible to to both women and men
  • The number of women farmers and number of men farmers who have regular access to weather and climate information services and price information services, and make use of them
  • Changes in property (e.g. land, livestock, trees) owned and controlled by women and men in different age and ethnic groups
  • Perceptions of women and men on the usefulness of the climate-smart agriculture technology and that benefits that would accrue from its adoption
  • Percentage change in crop yield per hectare and year as result of the climate-smart agriculture intervention, with figures disaggregated by female-headed households and male-headed households and household members
  • The number of farmers participating in functional associations as a result of the project, with the numbers disaggregated by sex and by type of association (e.g. market cooperative or producer association)
  • Farmers who consider themselves better off (e.g. in terms of livelihood, income, nutrition, wellbeing, social status or empowerment) due to the climate-smart agriculture intervention, with the numbers disaggregated by sex.
  • The number of women in leadership and decision-making roles or positions in the community
  • The changes in the labour burden of women and men (e.g. number of persons reporting a significant reduction in the time spent for collecting water or fuel).

(Adapted from FAO, IFAD, World Bank, 2015)


Distributional effects: Accrual of a phenomenon’s / initiative’s costs, benefits and other socio-economic impacts to specific population groups, distribution of these costs, benefits and impacts among these groups ( e.g. women, rural women, youth, etc, various income quintiles, etc)