Building Women’s Resilience to Climate Change: Lessons from smallholder farmers

By Alessia Valentini

How to “get real” about investments in gender equality in agriculture was the theme of today’s side event at COP22 on Building Women’s Resilience to Climate Change.

The event brought speakers from CARE International, the CGIAR's Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security Programme (CCAFS) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), shared their experiences and lessons learned on promoting gender equality, looked at what is being done in practice and proposed ways to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture adaptation programmes.

The main message conveyed by the panellists was that the impacts of climate change and climate variability are differentiated by gender. In fact, investments in smallholder agriculture, which are designed to improve resilience to climate change, are often significantly gender biased in terms of specific activities undertaken. This has implications on income sources and opportunities, livelihood diversification, access to and control over resources and benefits, and on the quality of life for men and women.

Emma Bowa shared experiences on CARE’s gender-responsive actions and said that climate change comes with opportunities which we should make accessible to women.

“What is important is to ensure that men and women sit down and make decisions together to improve their relationships and obtain better results,” said Bowa.

Ilaria Firmian presented IFAD’s gender policy and shared lessons learnt from the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP).

“IFAD’s gender policy is based on promoting economic empowerment, enabling women and men to have an equal voice and influence in rural institutions and organisations, and achieve a more equitable balance in workload,” said Firmian. “The design of IFAD’s ASAP-supported projects is gender-sensitive and follows the agency’s gender policy objectives. However, the imperative for IFAD now is to build a clear understanding of how gender considerations in design translate into practice.”