Looking at Climate Change through the Gender Lens

On March 8, 2017, the world celebrates International Women’s Day—a day dedicated to raising awareness on the importance of achieving gender parity in the working world. To understand women’s role in agriculture and to close the gender gap in agricultural production, the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) research has been examining gender differences within rural households and communities for over 25 years.

One challenge that both men and women face is increasing resilience to growing climate threats. Gender-disaggregated data from a study in Bangladesh, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda, which was conducted in partnership with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), showed that men and women respond differently to climate change given considerable variations in perceptions, preferences, needs, and priorities. Women often lack access to information and resources needed to adapt to perceived climate changes. Therefore, closing the gender gap in agriculture would enable women to contribute to making agriculture and rural livelihoods more resilient.

Another research based on a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey and conducted Key Informant Interviews (KII) with practitioners in Africa south of the Sahara found that many agencies and organizations working in climate change adaptation and mitigation were not adequately integrating gender into the design, implementation, and assessment of policies, programs, and projects. In addition, many organizations lack training on gender issues, have limited context-specific and gender-disaggregated data, and faced cultural barriers restricting women’s participation in adaptation projects and leadership roles.

The survey and interview tools provided such valuable insights into the gaps and opportunities to make policies and programs inclusive that it caught the attention of other institutions beyond Africa. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) used similar tools to assess the capacity needs of policy makers working on climate change adaptation in Latin America. In 2015, the analysis of the survey and interview data assisted IICA to add a gender lens into its activities.

Because men and women deal differently with climate change, integrating gender into climate change adaptation and mitigation policies, programs, and projects is essential to strengthen the resilience of all smallholder farmers in developing countries. To support gender integration, IFPRI has also developed useful tools to ensure gender inclusivity in climate change programs and activities.

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