Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

The role of gender in Climate-Smart Agriculture

Enabling Frameworks

Transitioning to gender responsive climate-smart agriculture

As has been underscored throughout this module, strengthening climate-resilience in a gender-responsive way require will require an integrated approach. Interventions need to simultaneously address a host of structural issues, including improving access to land tenure and other natural and productive assets and services, and integrating women farmers into agri-food value chains and relevant decision-making processes (FAO, 2016).

This can be achieved by developing and scaling up socially and environmentally sustainable technologies, practices and employment opportunities and other measures that take into account the diversity of agricultural systems and are responsive to socio-economic and gender issues.

The most important recommendations for charting a sustainable pathway to gender-responsive, climate-smart agricultural development are listed below. 

Improve the productivity and reduce the time and work burdens of women small-scale farmers by ensuring equal access to the productive resources and information required to implement climate-smart agriculture.

Building the resilience of women farmers requires improving their access to productive resources, especially land. This can reduce their exposure and sensitivity to shocks and increase their yields.

It is also essential to enhance the capacities of agricultural extension workers to promote new technologies. Greater investments in climate information services are needed to make them accessible, timely and user-friendly for women farmers. Access to information and technology will help women farmers make crop management decisions that can increase their revenues and/or reduce their workload. To ensure the uptake of new technologies, it will be important to promote favourable social attitudes and practices about women’s role in agriculture and the use of new technologies. Rural advisory services will need to become more responsive to gender issues.

Remove financing barriers to allow women farmers to invest in climate-smart agriculture

Even if women farmers had secure land tenure and productive assets, they need access to affordable long-term finance to increase their capacity to invest in climate-smart agriculture. To reduce the key financing barriers women face due to their limited collateral, the lending practices of public and private financial institutions need to become more gender-equitable. This may require regulatory changes and incentives to increase the levels of credit to women farmers. This could include industry-wide voluntary actions, direct lending, and credit enhancement mechanisms.

Promote opportunities for women farmers to participate in, and move upward in the sustainable value chains

In looking at the value chain from a gender perspective, it becomes clear that markets are often structurally set up to exclude marginalized producers. It is important to take a coherent and rigorous approach to understanding market operations and undertaking interventions that ensure markets function more efficiently and sustainably for women and men. These types of interventions would support women farmers to form market associations or cooperatives, and strengthen their capacity to participate in the value chain, allowing them to move from production to other activities, such as aggregation, processing and distribution. With this support women can contribute to making the value chain more sustainable. Preferential access through quotas, targets, and tax exemptions for women cooperatives may be needed. More investment will be necessary in local infrastructure (e.g. roads, sustainable transport, post-harvest storage facilities and cooperative processing plants) to improve women’s access to markets and make their work less time-consuming. Creating synergies between targeted and innovative rural employment programmes and green growth strategies has the potential to lift rural women out of poverty and promote the development of sustainable and climate-smart agricultural landscapes.

Ensure small-scale food producers’ and women’s participation in planning, policy, and budget processes

Transparent, consultative processes for developing policies, setting budget priorities, and establishing plans and strategies promotes accountability and helps ensure that climate-smart interventions are appropriately targeted and resources are directed where they are most needed. Participatory processes are key for ensuring the priorities, perspectives and knowledge of small-scale food producers and women are reflected in climate-smart initiatives, and validating the value these stakeholders place on their role and contributions.