ROME – As climate extremes become more frequent and intense, women and girls – who are at a higher risk than men and boys of experiencing the devastating effects of the climate crisis – including food insecurity, need to be front and centre when planning and implementing climate change adaptation solutions, said three United Nations’ food agencies at their joint International Women’s Day event today.
Organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the event recognized the contribution of women and girls around the world who play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. It also highlighted the need for women’s meaningful participation in decision-making processes related to climate resilience and adaptation.
Women and girls’ disproportionate dependence on climate-sensitive work, such as farming, and their limited access to economic and production resources, and services and information increases their susceptibility to the devastating impacts of cyclones, floods and droughts, which in-turn impacts their livelihoods and food security.
Globally, 80 percent of the people displaced due to climate-related disasters are women. When homes are destroyed by climatic shocks, such as hurricanes, cyclones and earthquakes, women and girls are forced to flee to displacement camps, where they are often exposed to increased violence.
“To have any meaningful and long-lasting impact, women and girls cannot be left out – they must be at the centre of solutions and at the table designing those solutions,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General and Chair of the FAO Women’s Committee, in closing the event.
FAO supports countries to develop gender-responsive climate policies and actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and livestock. A specially designed programme aims to strengthen women’s leadership and negotiation skills, so they can become climate change negotiators. FAO also promotes parliamentary actions for targeted gender-budgeting and investments in agri-food systems in the context of climate change and COVID-19 response. It also assists Members to adopt gender-responsive good practices to support climate-smart agriculture and is a leading implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund.
“The 1.7 billion women and girls living in the world’s rural areas are far more likely to be affected by climate shocks and conflicts – by an order of magnitude. Yet they are the ones that disproportionately contribute to the long-term resilience of our communities, nutrition and livelihoods. IFAD is working with rural women to strengthen adaptation to climate change in rural areas and preserve the natural resources on which we all rely,” said Dr. Jyotsna Puri, IFAD Associate Vice-President. “With the right type of investments and recognition, they can help build a better future for all of us.”
Through its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), IFAD prioritises women’s empowerment. It promotes women’s participation in community planning and decision-making on adaptation and ensures women access trainings and equipment such as drip irrigation and solar pumps. In Gambia, for example, through access to suitable water management systems and trainings in soil fertilisation and transplanting, women have diversified and increased food production, earned higher incomes and have strengthened their community’s resilience to climate change.
“Vulnerable communities including women and girls on the frontlines of the climate crisis need urgent support to adapt and build resilience, said WFP’s Assistant Executive Director, Valerie Guarnieri. “WFP provides climate solutions that empower women with access to early warning information and forecast-based financing before a disaster strikes and trains women on climate resilient agricultural practices.”
In Guatemala, where frequent and intense droughts, as well as excessive rains, severe flooding and landslides have led to chronic food insecurity in recent years, WFP has launched parametric insurance that offers women smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs coverage against droughts and excess rain to protect their livelihoods in the event of a climatic shock. The insurance guarantees pay-outs of up to US$ 300 and ensures that they are able to meet their basic needs even in the face of a disaster. The project targets indigenous women in the community, noting their particular vulnerabilities.
Women have been severely underrepresented in important decision-making processes regarding climate change solutions. The lack of fair representation of women in climate change adaptation frameworks results in the creation of solutions that do not accurately respond to the different needs of the diverse groups of people affected by the threats of climate change.
Empowering women to ensure their full participation in climate change adaptation decisions and frameworks is crucial for achieving a more sustainable world.