Gender and climate change – Women making the difference

In most parts of the world, women play a major role in agricultural production, a critical component of food security, playing a pivotal role in the three main components of food security, i.e. availability, access and utilization. Women also play a role in a wide range of other activities that support agricultural development, such as soil and water conservation. Although men also play a crucial role in food production, they are more likely to have access to essential resources compared to women who, in many cases, have diminished assets and resources to help them plan for and potentially avert the next crisis. Diverse gender-based barriers (including restrictive sociocultural inhibitions) in accessing land, financial services, social capital, credit and technology render women vulnerable to food insecurity.

Despite significant strides in addressing gender inequalities over the years, rural women are still among the most marginalized groups in society and are particularly vulnerable to current and future climate change and food insecurity. However, it is well documented that there is a strong correlation between women’s empowerment and agricultural productivity. Gender equality at the household and community levels leads to superior agricultural and development outcomes, including increases in farm productivity and improvements in family nutrition.

Therefore, the agency of rural female farmers is essential for enhancing agricultural productivity and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including ensuring food security (SDG 2) and addressing the perils of climate change (SDG 13). Given these close relationships, the response to climate change vis-à-vis the agricultural sector should therefore take into account gender dynamics and be gender-responsive.

Recognise and strengthen the traditional role of women within African communities.