Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

The role of gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture

Enabling Frameworks

Gender analysis as a prerequisite for gender-responsive climate-smart agriculture interventions

This section looks at the basic considerations that must be taken into account for conducting a gender analysis for climate-smart agriculture interventions. It describes vulnerability assessments, data requirements and gender-sensitive indicators that can be used in the formulation and implementation of climate-smart agriculture projects. 

Gender analysis is the study of the different social and economic roles of men and women play in a given context. The purpose is to understand what women and men do, what resources they have, and what their needs and priorities are. The results of gender analyses provide the basis for addressing inequalities in policies, programmes, and projects and they can be conducted at multiple levels (household, community, and national).

Gender analysis helps to develop a better understanding of the gender, cultural and socio-economic diversity in a specific context. It can contribute to the planning of gender-responsive climate-smart agriculture interventions by exploring the differences between women and men in the following areas:

  • individual vulnerability to climate risks;
  • access to and control over assets and productive resources;
  • access to climate information, services, institutions and markets;
  • willingness and capacity to take on risk;
  • specific needs and participation rates; and
  • power relations (e.g. in decision making) within households and communities.

An in-depth gender analysis involves the collection of sex-disaggregated data and information, which can be done in a variety of ways, including through vulnerability and capacity assessments, and stakeholder and livelihood analysesiv

Gender-responsive guiding questions can be used to organize data, collect information and structure interviews and consultations with men and women stakeholders. Gender analysis helps clarify how women and men are affected by an intervention. It also can help identify opportunities for women to become agents of change and improve the effectiveness of climate-smart interventions. 

For gender analysis, some of the most important guiding questions for assessing the impacts of climate change and obtaining information that is disaggregated by sex and age are:

  • What is the impact of climate change on individuals, households and communities?
  • What factors determine women and men’s differential vulnerability to climate risks and how do these factors affect their adaptive capacity and mitigation measures? If these climate-smart agriculture practices are scaled up, what are the implications for gender relations and the environment, and how are these implications connected?
  • How can the environmental, social and economic sustainability of climate-smart interventions be ensured, and especially, how can the equal and equitable participation and distribution of benefits to women and men be guaranteed? 

The recently published training module, entitled How to integrate gender issues in climate-smart agriculture projects (World Bank, FAO, 2017), presents a comprehensive set of tools for integrating gender into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of climate-smart agriculture projects. It highlights gender issues in stakeholder, livelihood, and situation analyses, needs assessments and presents participatory methods to support gender-responsive interventions across the entire project cycle. Module C8 provides complementary information on climate impact assessments and appraisals of climate-smart agriculture options. Module C9 addresses the monitoring and evaluation of climate-smart agriculture programmes and projects.

C6-3.1. Understanding the causes: gender-sensitive vulnerability and capacity assessments

Vulnerability and capacity assessments provide important information to policymakers and development practitioners about the needs of the populations targeted by climate-smart agriculture interventions. They help to indicate what policy interventions are likely to be most effective in helping both women and men farmers respond to shocks and build resilience. 

These assessments consider the different livelihood assets of the communities, such as human capital (e.g. education, health, knowledge, and skills), social capital (e.g. social networks, formal and informal groups, common rules and sanctions), economic capital (e.g. savings, credit and tools), and natural capital (e.g land and water resources, trees, wildlife and biodiversity). Women and men have different amounts of livelihood assets and different combinations of assets. They participate in different activities. All of these differences will influence their vulnerability to climate change and their adaptive capacity. 

To understand gender dynamics in agriculture, it is not sufficient to compare female and male farmers, or female-headed households to male-headed households. Instead, there is a need to understand the heterogeneous systems of households embedded in the agricultural economy and analyse the different situations of women in both female-headed households and male-headed households in terms of their access and control of productive resources, services and employment opportunities. It is for this reason that the collection of sex-disaggregated data for individuals in each household is needed (see section C6-6). 

The effects of some policy interventions are often unequal for different types of farmers, especially for men and women farmers (Kilic et al., 2014). The adoption of new climate-smart agriculture technologies depends on whether the decision-maker is the husband or the wife, and if the decision-maker is also the head of the household. The household should be considered as a network of interactions between different agents who act together to maximize their own outcomes. In this context, gender influences decision-making over the allocation, negotiation and exchange of resources and labour. 

Various approaches can be used to inform decision-making related to climate-smart agriculture including tailored vulnerability and capacity assessments and related quantitative and qualitative methodologies (described in section C6-5). Listed below are three examples of tested vulnerability and capacity assessment tools.

Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CARE International)

The Climate Vulnerability and Capacity Analysis (CVCA) methodology provides a framework for analysing a community's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and its capacity to adapt to these impacts. Recognizing that local stakeholders, both men and women, must have the opportunity to shape their own futures, CVCA places local knowledge on climate risks and adaptation strategies at the forefront of the data gathering and analysis process and at the same time integrates climate science into planning and into the understanding of future projections.

The main objectives of CVCA are to:

  • analyse vulnerability to climate change and adaptive capacity at the community level with data disaggregated by sex; and
  • combine community knowledge and scientific data to provide a deeper understanding about local impacts of climate change. 

The participatory exercises help gain understanding of the implications of climate change for men and women, and the risk climate change poses to markets and ecosystems services. They lay the foundation for a risk analysis and tailored climate change adaptation planning.


As part of the Integrated Approach Programme on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa (IAP), FAO as a Global Environment Facility (GEF) Implementing Agency has applied the Self-Evaluation and Holistic Assessment of Climate Resilience of Farmers and Pastoralists (SHARP) tool to assess the resilience of farmer and pastoralist households to climate change.

The SHARP survey questionnaire considers a range of topics (e.g. land degradation, sustainable land management, agricultural biodiversity, resilience, decision-making regarding major and daily purchases and other financial decisions) that can be measured through indexes, scores and scales. The SHARP methodology, which disaggregates information by gender, can be used to gain a better understanding of different aspects of households’ agricultural activities, their vulnerability to shocks, their access to water and land, food insecurity, and climate-related factors that affect production.

The results of the survey can help inform the design and implementation of the projects’ gender strategy, including the development of Farmer Field Schools’ curricula and interactions with advisory services.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (IFAD)

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT), developed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is designed to support project design, monitoring and evaluation, targeting and prioritization at the local level. It is a survey-based thematic tool that combines different indicators that provide an overview of 11 fundamental and interconnected dimensions related to human well-being and rural livelihoods in a sex-disaggregated manner. The first six dimensions relate to food and nutrition security; domestic water supply; health and healthcare; sanitation and hygiene; housing, clothing and energy; education. These can be considered fundamental needs. Other aspects, such as farm and non-farm assets, exposure and resilience to shocks, gender and social equality and adaptation to climate change address central aspects of rural livelihoods, life and well-being.

Wide-ranging expert input has been solicited to create and test household and village-level surveys.  These surveys, which are used to collect data from rural people, use indicators that are calculated for each household and then averaged for each village. This is done to organize the data so that they can be summarized and presented in a clear, standardized fashion. The results, which highlight the strongest viable sectors and the most pressing gender-differentiated needs of households and communities, can be used strategically to guide interventions and address priority gender concerns.

Choosing adequate tools helps ensure that efforts will not only reach the appropriate groups but will also lead to fair, inclusive and affirmative actions and decisions for groups who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.


iv Among the qualitative methods, stakeholder analysis and livelihood analysis can be undertaken to assess the problems, interests, needs, and potential of different groups of stakeholders – including potential project participants – from a gender perspective. Stakeholder analysis: indicates the different priorities, risks and vulnerabilities linked to climate change, what people have at stake, what they are willing to invest in changing, and what benefits they can expect to get from a proposed intervention Livelihood analysis: a gender-sensitive analysis that allows us to understand men’s and women’s options; their access to services, education and markets; their vulnerabilities to climate change; and their coping strategies and opportunities.