Getting to work on gender transformative climate services

While women increasingly gain access to cell phones and other electronic communication devices, the levels of access to these technologies globally are still lower for women and girls. Photo by M. Koningstein (CIAT).
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Feb 21, 2018


Tatiana Gumucio and Sophia Huyer (CCAFS)

CCAFS research flagships jointly work on making climate information accessible and actionable for women and men farmers.

In many parts of the world, farmers—especially smallholder farmers—are highly vulnerable to climate-related risks, which climate change is expected to further exacerbate. Moreover, these risks can impact women and men farmers differently due in part to the varied roles and responsibilities that they carry out in their communities and households. While climate services can be critical for enhancing farmers’ adaptive capacities, women and men can face varying opportunities and challenges to access climate services and implement climate information in agricultural decision-making.

Given their differentiated vulnerabilities to climate-related risks, how can climate services promote women and men farmers’ empowerment in the face of a changing climate? In order to critically address this question, the Gender and Social Inclusion and Climate Services and Safety Nets flagships of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) have come together to assess the challenges and opportunities to developing climate services that equitably benefit smallholder farmers. The initiative has the ultimate goal of promoting climate services that help reverse gender inequalities.

Research and learning thus far on the gender dimensions of climate services has been limited, even more so when it comes to thinking about possible effects on women’s empowerment and reducing gender inequalities. Although limited, this type of research has offered valuable insights to improve the design and planning of climate services. 

For example, while information and communications technologies (ICTs) carried information services are seen as strategies to compensate for lack of access to formal agricultural knowledge systems for both women and men, the levels of access to these technologies globally are lower for women and girls. An analysis of data from three countries finds that women’s access to information appears to be limited by their lack of technology ownership, as men tend to control technology within the household. Yet despite their limited mobile phone ownership, women do access and can find mobile phone technologies useful. Mittal’s research on women and men farmers’ involvement in a mobile-based advisory service in India demonstrates no gender differences in listening rates, suggesting that women are just as interested as men in the information disseminated via this channel. Furthermore, women in the study report weather forecasts as one of the most valuable types of information received via the mobile phone because it helps them to make informed decisions.

This project comes at an opportune time to capitalize on CCAFS developing research in the climate services sector and contribute key insights and guidance for empowering men and women farmers. Specific activities involve an evaluation of lessons learned from previous and ongoing CCAFS projects on climate services, in order to identify promising models for gender-transformative strategies—including establishing an understanding of gender differentials in access to and use of climate services. The project will also be developing training materials for design, delivery, and monitoring and evaluation of gender equality objectives in climate services projects. An additional key activity of the collaboration is the production of a framework for use for evaluation of gender equality impacts in select CCAFS projects on climate services.

To launch the project, Sophia Huyer, Leader of CCAFS Flagship on Gender and Social Inclusion Leader visited the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), where the Climate Services flagship is based, for a series of working meetings with James Hansen, Leader of the CCAFS Flagship on Climate Services and Safety Nets, and with other IRI staff over 18 and 19 January 2018. A seminar on gender and climate services in the agricultural sector was also given on 19 January by IRI Postdoctoral Research Scientist Tatiana Gumucio to initiate discussion of the issues with other researchers working in climate services, smallholder agriculture and food security. Project updates will be posted on the project page as activities develop.

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