Men and women differ in terms of how they experience the impacts climate change, the degree to which they are vulnerable to these impacts, and their capacity to adapt to them.
The costs and benefits associated with adopting climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices are experienced differently by different household members and by men and women.
We see differences between men and women farmers in their ability to adapt to CSA based on their access to resources, such as land, agricultural inputs and finance, their access to markets, and their access to knowledge about CSA practices and technology. Similarly, men’s and women’s demands on their time directly influence their ability to use CSA techniques. Cultural norms shape what men and women can do and where they can go – which may also affect their ability to adopt CSA practices. Therefore, it is essential that CSA interventions include an analysis of the differences between men and women in these areas to ensure that women, men, girls and boys benefit equally from climate-smart interventions and to ensure the long-term sustainability of these interventions. This is called a gender analysis.
Over the next several slides we will discuss some of these differences as they generally apply. In Module 3 we will explore how they relate to particular CSA techniques. In module 4 we will look at how to conduct a gender analysis. In module 5 we will look at some approaches to enterprise development in CSA intervention contexts that help reduce the issues that arise from men and women’s different access to land, inputs, finance and markets, as well as their different time use and social statuses.
When doing work in a region, we should always investigate to see what the practices and customs regarding who owns and has access to land prevail. One common practice in Mali, for example, is customary landholding, where the oldest male household head determines which fields will used by household members. These assignments may change season by season. Therefore, women and young men in these households have access to land, but they do not have long term control over it. This can make their inclusion in CSA interventions more difficult – particularly those that require long term investments in land, such as tree planting to improve the soil and reduce CO2 omissions. Since women do not have long term access to the same fields, they may be unwilling to make long term investments in the land that may not pay off for them.
Changing these norms around ownership is difficult, but it is important for CSA interventions to consider how women’s different access to and control of land affects their ability to participate in CSA interventions. Where women do not have long term control of their fields, interventions should consider working with both women and men on household compounds to ensure women’s voices are involved in planning field use and to make sure all decision-makers in the compound understand the importance of long-term planning.
What we also see often is that men and women have different levels of access to other agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and tools. This has to do with their different knowledge of these inputs and how they can help on the farm. It also has to do with the fact that men and women often have different incomes and different amounts of cash and savings that they can use to purchase inputs or rent tools. We may also need to consider that although plows and plow animals will be used by both male and female farmers, men mostly will have access to the animals first. This means that they can start plowing and preparing their fields earlier, giving them a longer production period. This in turn shapes the choices that men and women make about what crops to cultivate.
In many African countries, rural women face many barriers to obtaining finance and loans, particularly in the commercial banking sector. Women may lack collateral or have limited financial literacy. There can also be institutional challenges such as a lack of documentation for credit histories or the bank’s lack of understanding of the agricultural sectors. As a result, women are less likely to have formal bank accounts, savings and access to loans. Women and others who have limited savings or access to credit may not be able to finance expensive crop systems, make investments in infrastructure or have the financial resources to adopt CSA practices.
Interventions that have worked to create connections between the commercial banking sector and farmers often work on one or both of two levels:
Technical support and capacity building for agricultural enterprises, which could include collectives and farmer associations. These should focus on building the financial literacy and competency of participants and help them with business planning and applying for loans. This should also include long term support for loan recipients around financial management so that they can plan and save and pay their loans down over time. Technical support and capacity building for banks and other financial institutions, to help support their lending practices and engage farmers in CSA.
At both levels, it is key that people working to support women’s access to finance continue to talk with the women receiving this support to understand their needs and how the process is working for them. Project planners need to find out what products and services are available in their area for women farmers, cooperatives and enterprises, promote these where possible and help coordinate the needs of both financers and loan recipients around the products.
Outside of the formal banking sector, there are other forms of financing, such as microfinance institutions and membership-based financial organizations, including village savings and loans associations (VSLAs). As with the formal sector, NGOs and others working with farmers should explore what options are available as they design projects and interventions. One strength of VSLAs is that they are frequently organized by village groups without outside intervention. In Module 5 we will look more closely at a case study of how working with a VSLA can help fund an enterprise development program that supports CSA goals by increasing women’s income and therefore their ability to take on other CSA approaches.
Women face several barriers to selling agricultural products in the market that men do not face. For example, although markets in cities generally offer better prices than markets in villages, women often do not have access to transportation to reach these markets, and face prohibitions around their travel or the amount of time they can be away from the village. Additionally, women often do not have access to safe storage facilities for their agricultural products, leading to loss of crops and produce or driving them to sell quickly, at lower prices. If they can reach these markets, they frequently find that the buyers at the next point in the value chain are not women, and they may face cultural restrictions about communicating with these men since they are not known or related to them. These barriers reduce women’s ability to gain experience at negotiating fair prices in the market. Women’s ability to negotiate is also reduced because of their more limited access to credit and savings, as this increases the pressure on them to make a quick sale.
It is very important that interventions working with women farmers analyze the barriers to women’s access to markets at each point in the value chain. Interventions to improve women’s access to agricultural markets can promote women’s involvement at other points along the value chain, so there are more women for the women farmers to sell to and negotiate with. Interventions can also provide training in negotiation for women, and promote other income generating activities and access to finance that can improve women’s bargaining position.
As we discussed before, women may have more limited access to extension services. This means they have a more limited understanding of CSA crop and livestock practices than men who may meet regularly with extension workers. Men and women who have familiarity with CSA practices will be more willing to adopt new practices, while others may be more hesitant.
Women may have lower levels of literacy and not be able to read information about CSA practices. Literacy rates for women and men often differ. In Mali, for example, 24.6% of women are literate while 43.1% of men are. One study in Mali found that women farmers did not find weather forecast information relevant, as they had not been taught how to read the forecasts or understand what they meant.
Likewise, men are more likely to own mobile phones and be more familiar with mobile technology. Women and men who have to use other people’s phones for services may not be able to use these services regularly.
Men’s and women’s different access to knowledge and information can also affect their perceptions of the risk climate change poses to them. With less access to information, women might not understand the risks of not adapting to change.
All of this means that people trying to promote CSA techniques with women and men need to consider how best to reach the different groups, particularly thinking through different ways of delivering and displaying the information so that it is meaningful to both men and women.
Women are often responsible for household chores (e.g., cooking, fetching water and fuel wood, feeding children) that can add extra burdens to their day’s work. Adjusting cropping patterns can impact men and women’s division of labor in the household and the farm. The time women need to engage in these activities can also stop them from raising more labor-intensive crops or engaging in other income generating activities. Likewise, these different uses of time my influence women’s decision to take up certain climate smart agriculture inputs. For example, if women farmers are provided with a species of bean that uses less water to grow but takes longer to cook, they will not just need to consider the use of water but also the additional time it will take them to cook the new beans. This might influence their preference to not plant these beans.
In Mali, like in other African countries, many men are beginning to migrate to begin work outside the agricultural sector. As a result, women are taking on more of the burden of producing food for the family, in addition to the crops they’ve always grown and their other household chores. This may also influence their decisions to take on CSA approaches, as their time is becoming even more squeezed.
Women may occupy a lower social status than men and have more limited ability to influence decisions in their households and communities.
This may affect how they can respond to climate change and whether or not they adopt new farming practices.
They may want to cultivate new varieties of staples but find themselves limited by the expectations that other family and community members have for the food crops they cultivate. If everyone likes a certain type of bean or yam, new varieties may be difficult to adopt because they don’t taste the same. If women have limited ability to persuade others to change their behaviors, then it will be harder for them to try to grow these new varieties.
Let’s return to our gender equality and CSA framework. This reminds us to consider the following elements in our projects and how things may be different for men and women farmers: inputs, access to land and resources, labor and time use, knowledge/ information, access to markets and access to finance
Women’s access to CSA solutions or approaches, their access to resources, control of income from the sale of produce, and the time horizon until benefits are reaped can all affect how CSA solutions impact men and women.
How do you adapt your CSA work to bring in women?
Good CSA should also have positive gender impacts; it should not make things worse for women. It should involve the poorest and most vulnerable groups, particularly those living on marginal lands which are most vulnerable to climate events like drought and floods.
We have learned a lot in this training so far.
We have learned that men and women differ in terms of how they experience the impacts climate change, the degree to which they are vulnerable to these impacts and their capacity to adapt to them. The costs and benefits associated with adopting climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices are not evenly distributed among household members. Gender analysis must be an integral part of climate-smart agriculture interventions. It is essential to improve women’s access to resources, services, information and jobs, so that they can increase their productivity and contribute to meeting the objectives of climate-smart agriculture and broader development goals. A gender-responsive approach to climate-smart agriculture helps identify and address the different constraints faced by various vulnerable groups, targets their specific needs and interests and ensures that women, men, girls and boys can benefit equally from climate-smart interventions and that the outcomes of these interventions will be sustainable.
How should we address gender equality? Let’s remember that:
Women typically have less access and legal rights to the land which they farm, or to other productive and economic resources. Men and women can have very different experiences with climate change. We also know that the costs and benefits of adopting CSA are not evenly distributed. When we design projects and interventions, we need to keep all these things in mind and that men and women can have very different access to resources, services, information and jobs.
It is important to remember that women can be less aware of CSA because they may not meet or talk to an extension worker. They may face more restrictions attending meetings with their families or even face restrictions about meeting and talking with men who are not from their families.
In Uganda and Senegal, the researchers asked men and women about different CSA practices, particularly whether or not they had heard about these practices. The first is the list of practices women were more aware of and the second list is of the practices men are more aware of. Can you see the difference?
When women do learn about CSA they can often make changes to their farming practices.
So this tells us that information is a powerful tool.
We still may need to understand what other barriers to adoption women face. But overcoming a lack of knowledge can help women adopt CSA practices.
What special considerations might you need to ensure that women get information about CSA practices where you work?
Should you have more women extension workers?
Could you make it easier to adopt CSA by helping women have access to the tools they need? What kind of tools are these?
Is this CSA?
If not, why not?
The women clearly tried to adapt to the changing conditions. But they weren’t able to practice CSA.
CSA that took women’s and household needs into account would help to identify what could be done to maintain yields, improve the soils, increase water retention and meet food security needs.
We could work with the women to identify staple and fodder crops that they could grow that would feed their families and their livestock. We could also work with them to compost or use green manure, to reduce the loss of moisture in the soils and increase their fertility and productivity. They don’t need to buy expensive fertilizers, but they can improve their soils and diversify their crops.
But this means working with the women, asking them what they need, understanding how much time they have to work in the fields and what resources they have to farm with.