Climate Change Management and Agriculture – What Can Women Do?

role of women in agriculture and climate changeWhen a woman is empowered, the whole family, society, and the country are empowered to advance forward towards development.

Can women play a special role in climate change management and agriculture?

Let’s see.

Contribution of Women in Agriculture and Managing Climate Change

  • Women are the primary managers of household work, energy, food and essential services.
  • They contribute substantially to managing climate change and agriculture.
  • They play a vital role because agriculture and climate change management basically start at the individual level at home.
  • It is a fact that rural women guarantee an increase in food production.
  • The science of farming was initiated by women.
  • Women are biologically active to bend and collect the tea leaves in the northeastern regions. Men are not physically strong enough to do this activity.
  • Women are more hardworking than men and can work for longer hours.
  • Women are responsible to carry out the ancillary and tertiary works in horticulture, fishery, sericulture, poultry farming etc.
  • Women are the managers of kitchen and hence using pollution-free chullas which help in pollution free atmosphere.
  • Women are not just considered as beneficiaries of smart climate actions but as entrepreneurs of clean energy technologies, as organic food producers-farmers and as local planners.

What is hindering women from playing their role in agriculture?

  • Most women do not have land in their name and hence cannot be associated with agriculture in the real sense.
  • They cannot go on migrating from place to place in case of land transfers owing to family responsibilities and children, unlike men do.
  • They are not incentivized and do not get due credit too. Hence women are not encouraged to work in this sector.
  • Men constitute 81 % approx in agriculture while women constitute only 32 % approx in the agriculture sector.
  • There is huge gender wage gap.
  • Household chores and care economy is not counted in the GDP of the country. The role of women in agriculture is considered just to be a “help” and not an important economic contribution to agricultural production.
  •  Social customs dictate, moreover, that women, should – in addition to agricultural activities – be responsible for cooking, carrying water and fetching firewood, limiting their participation in decision-making processes and their exposure to those economic opportunities that arise, thus increasing the level of inequality vis-à-vis their partners.
  • Women are basically an unorganized sector and hence discrimination against them cannot be reported.
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Women empowerment with respect to Agriculture and Climate Change Management – Efforts by Government

  • At COP22, Parties to the Convention discussed to adopt a comprehensive work programme on gender to integrate gender perspectives in climate policies and actions and to ensure women’s participation at all levels.
  • Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) empowers women in agriculture by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity and sustainable livelihood, especially for rural women.
  • In National Food Security Mission (NFSM), training and awareness are given to women on enhanced technology improvements that can be applied to agriculture.
  • CSIR-NEERI’s initiative to develop a domestic multi-fuel stove: NEERDHUR, an Improved Cook Stove (ICS) has been developed by adopting a comprehensive approach to technological innovations for improved stove efficiency, emission reduction and intensive stakeholder interactions to address issues of adoption such as stove cost, stove maintenance, fuel affordability, and availability. The NEERI stove “NEERDHUR” addresses adoption and sustainability-related challenges of ICS. It is a multi-fuel (biomass, charcoal, agro residue etc.) stove with hybrid operation modes.
  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s, National Biomass Cookstoves Programme (NBCP) during 2009-10 initiated the process of consultations under its Core Group on cookstoves to ascertain the status of various types of biomass improved cookstoves being developed and promoted by various organizations, NGOs, entrepreneurs and industries in the country, and to identify ways and means for the development and expansion of the deployment of improved biomass cookstoves. The consultations indicated that biomass cook stoves do have the potential to directly address health and welfare concerns of the weakest and most vulnerable sections of society. The cleaner combustion in these devices will also greatly reduce greenhouse pollutants. It will mitigate drudgery of women and children using traditional chulha for cooking.
  • ICAR- Central Institute for Women in Agriculture (ICAR-CIWA) has been undertaking research on issues affecting women in agriculture.
  • The state government has been asked to ensure the free flow of 30 % of funds to women farmers.
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What else can be done?

role of women in agriculture

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  • Realizing the importance of rural women in agriculture is an important aspect of gender relations.
  • The adoption of measures that facilitate the transition to a type of agriculture that respects the environment and contributes to the conservation of natural resources that benefit women is, in particular, necessary.
  • We must undertake joint efforts to create favourable conditions in agricultural areas, including the reinforcement of road networks for the transportation of produce from production areas where rural women work, as well as the processing and commercialization of such products.
  • There is a need to drop policies which are less favorable to rural women, focusing on the appreciation of their role as producers of wealth and strengthening the network of public services in rural areas, including health, education, and welfare services, as well as establishing policies that combat the asymmetries that prevent rural women from being protected against the effects of climate change.
  • There should be skill empowerment which would give a boost to women to work in this sector.
  • The training of rural women is very important, especially with the adoption of modern agricultural techniques that are tailored to local conditions, with a view to achieving economic development without degrading the environment.
  • It requires the dissemination of the results of research carried out by experts – including those on agroecological techniques with a view to increasing Rural Women’s production levels.
  • Women entrepreneurs in this sector should be provided ample opportunity, capital, resource and support too.
  • There should be changes in financial and educational sectors.
  • Self Help Group (SHG) creation would help women make their own decisions and they can be financially independent.
  • There should be data collection where women have been involved in agriculture and climate change which would boost the confidence of other women to come and be a part of this sector too.
  • Public-Private Partnership ecosystem in Specific Services Partnership’s initiative provides rural women improved access to technology, finance and markets.
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Success Stories of women: Recent examples

  • A group of about 30 “solar mamas” from Tanzania and a few other African countries demonstrated their skills in fabrication, repair and maintenance of solar lanterns and household lighting systems in India.
  • Women in Vanuatu worked to restore their livelihoods and adapt their marketplace to be more resilient to future climate disasters.
  • In post-hurricane Haiti, women worked together to rebuild after a disaster.
  • In 10 of the most climate-vulnerable districts of Bangladesh, more than 19,100 women built better systems of support and preparation for disasters, while livelihood skills training has enabled more than 1,600 women to expand their businesses.

Article by: Ipsita Mishra

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