Tackle gender gaps to improve food security, say researchers

Gender differences can create barriers to climate change adaptation. In many places, women are less likely than men to adopt new technologies, use credit or other financial services or receive education or extension advice. Photo: C. Peterson (CIAT/CCAFS)

Data shows differences in how men and women experience – and deal with- climate change.

Women and men perceive climate change differently, and gender differences influence their ability to adapt, according to an analysis published on the IFPRI blog. Researchers Elizabeth Bryan, Patti Kristjanson and Claudia Ringler looked at gender dissagregated data collected at CCAFS research sites in Senegal, Uganda, Kenya and Bangladesh. What they found can help researchers and policy makers develop better interventions.

For example, there are differences in how women and men in the different countries perceived climatic changes, weather and events like flooding.

Given that adaptation responses largely depend on individuals’ perceptions of climate change, differences in men’s and women’s perceptions can have profound effects on whether or not they adapt and, if so, which strategies they choose.

Another example relates to climate information, seen as a highly valuable resource for farmers. According to the authors, men and women need different kinds of information.

For example, women in Kaffrine, Senegal wanted forecasts of end of the rainfall season, given that they often plant later than men due to their limited control over the means of production. Women also prefer information about climate-smart agriculture practices that relate to their roles within the household, such as post-harvest processing.

This relates to other findings from the CCAFS program in West Africa, which shows that women and men have different preferences in how they receive climate information, favouring updates through personal contacts rather than rural radio.

Women and men also have different strategies for adopting technologies or making changes, an important consideration for climate change adaptation. These findings, and the other ones outlined in the IFPRI analysis, make a strong case for collecting gender-disaggregated data, something we have covered before on this blog.

The researchers conclude:

“These findings point to the need for integrating a gender perspective into research on climate change as well as programs and projects focused on facilitating adaptation (and mitigation) on the ground.”

Read the full story on the IFPRI blog: Why paying attention to gender matters for climate change adaptation by Elizabeth Bryan, Patti Kristjanson, and Claudia Ringler. 12 November 2015.

More gender resources:

Vanessa Meadu is the Global Communications and Knowledge Manager of CCAFS.