As I had written about earlier, FAO put on a learning event about the opportunities and challenges in incorporating a gender lens in Climate Smart Agriculture initiatives. There were some very interesting discussions that came out of the event, and I want to share the resources FAO has made available to participants. Rather than putting it all in here, I will encourage anyone interested to join the online community, where you’ll be able to access all recordings of the webinar, discussion boards, and some documents.
Here is a sample of what’s there:
- The recordings of all presentations and discussions of the webinar at www.fao.org/climatechange/micca/79527
- Facilitated discussion on the lessons learned and Summary of the whole learning event at Recording: discussion and summary (20 min)
- IUCN Report: “The art of implementation : gender strategies transforming national and regional climate change decision making”
My main take-away is that this is hard work. It is difficult to navigate cultural and societal boundaries that prevent women from accessing knowledge, capital, and inputs, elements that can fundamentally change the way food is produced and sold in a community. But like many endeavors, difficult things can be the most rewarding, and engaging women in Climate Smart Agriculture and other mitigation and adaptation projects has the potential to improve livelihoods and the health of the planet. Throughout the series and in the recent weeks, I’ve stumbled upon many women-focused agriculture initiatives, and I find it interesting to think about how their impact might be measured– how might we conceive of “gender equality” in farming, and what are the ideal outcomes of these programs? One answer is to think about how much women’s leadership skills and capacity have been enhanced. Another is to think of success as empowerment, and then attempt to measure said empowerment..it’s no easy task, but some are trying to do precisely that. Take for example the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), it:
measures the empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector in an effort to identify ways to overcome those obstacles and constraints.The Index is a significant innovation in its field and aims to increase understanding of the connections between women’s empowerment, food security, and agricultural growth. It measures the roles and extent of women’s engagement in the agriculture sector in five domains:
(1) decisions about agricultural production,
(2) access to and decisionmaking power over productive resources,
(3) control over use of income,
(4) leadership in the community, and
(5) time use.
It also measures women’s empowerment relative to men within their households.
There is a lot of information and countless reports, case studies and pilot programs out there, all pointing to a similar conclusion: women and their role must be at the center of policy and project planning. This is not to exclude men from development initiatives, but to make sure that women are included, trained, and supported in their daily effort to feed their families and communities. It seems obvious, but it doesn’t always happen, and when it doesn’t, we are leaving behind some of the world’s most powerful agents for change.