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What's the role of men in closing the gender gap?

Every stance that men take in the fight for gender equality is critical. Photo: C. Schubert (CCAFS)
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mar 23, 2015


Bruce Campbell (CCAFS)


Why should men be interested in closing the gender gap in food and farming under climate change? Bruce Campbell, CCAFS director, argues that ultimately, the gender gap affects us all.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) hosted a seminar on 19 March 2015 to spark discussions on how to close the gender gap in food and farming under climate change. In a recent article on the Huffington Post, Bruce Campbell, CCAFS Director outlined why men need to support this approach, and offered some ways forward.

Better data

"Policies for coping with climate change must not be gender-blind: Statistics concerning women in the developing world are increasingly coming under fire for being too simplistic, out-dated and even misleading. If climate change affects rural men and women in different ways, then it is vital that adaption programs are sensitive to this. To develop meaningful programs that make a difference, we need to make a concerted effort to gather better data shows the differences between men and women, rather than simplistic indicators of 'male-headed' or 'female-headed' households. Such an approach ignores, for instance, all of the women living in male-headed households. Collecting and analysing data from men and women, regardless of the type of household they live in, will allow us to better understand the gender roles, responsibilities and differences in control over resources. If we carry on with gender-blind climate change projects we risk reproducing gender inequalities, and creating harm rather than good.

Better knowledge on land rights

While women may have more access to land than previously thought, formal rights to land or laws that prohibit women from owning property in their own name do remain an issue.

recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found that early attempts to certify land in Ethiopia proved successful - on paper. The greatest disparity was not between the proportion of land registered by men and women, but between the knowledge that men and women had about what they were entitled to. This shows that formal policies are not enough; they must be accompanied by efforts to better inform women about their rights and what they can achieve with them.

Better program planning that is gender-sensitive

The research institute Bioversity International has carried out an excellent example of a "gender-sensitive" climate adaptation program. The region of the Chicamocha canyon in Colombia is suffering from water scarcity, which researchers have found to impact men and women in different ways. For women, this impacts the production of food for the family, whilst for men this limits income through low yield of cash crops. The resulting climate adaptation strategy should therefore be different for each sex. Women's needs could be met by encouraging adoption of home gardens that require minimal watering. Men's needs could be met by testing different drought resistant species or crop varieties that are of commercial interest. But even further work is needed to alter the underlying gender inequalities."

Read the full story on The Huffington Post.