climate line | Women in much of the world are more vulnerable than men to drought- and desertification-related shocks due to systemic sexism, according to a United Nations report.
This is largely due to the lack of land rights and social equity, which prevents women from accessing capital, training, technical assistance and halls of power.
Commissioned by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the report found that women who frequently engage in agricultural activities are not considered farmers due to gender norms. This limits their access to the money, information and services they need to protect them from climate-related damage such as drought.
Without land titles or assets that can be used as collateral, it is difficult for women to obtain loans and credit that can help them recover from climate-related damage, the report notes. Without access to funding and technology, women are less able to adopt sustainable land management practices to help prevent additional climate damage or increase crop yields.
“Fair land governance and secure land tenure are critical to enabling women-led land restoration,” the report states.
Women play a vital, yet often unknown, role in the global food system. In low-income countries, women account for nearly half of agricultural employment, but much of this work is unpaid and overburdened, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
“Women are key players in global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation. They restore land, protect it, cherish, nourish and care for it, while also caring for others,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the Convention. Combat desertification, wrote in the introduction to the report.
Sexism and norms that do not recognize their role can increase the burdens women face and the world’s ability to respond to growing threats to terrestrial resources (green LineApril 27).
Adopt an early warning system. Climate predictions that help women prepare for drought are often shared at conferences that women can’t attend, the report found.
The study noted that these disadvantages were not evenly distributed across all genders. It said other aspects of identity such as race, income, marital status, disability status and rural or urban location also played a role.
It also looks at the impact on women’s health. In all regions, women do more nursing work than men, and drought and land degradation tend to increase their household chores, forcing women to travel further or wait in long lines for water, the report said.
“Women who stay behind to manage household chores may lack the ability to make timely agricultural decisions or to respond to the effects of drought, land degradation and desertification, or extreme weather events,” the study noted.
In many countries, women’s ability to acquire or own land is restricted, and in more than 100 countries, women are denied the right to inherit their husband’s property due to religious, customary or traditional laws.
But even in countries where women have the same legal rights to land as men, farm ownership remains overwhelmingly in the hands of men. In Costa Rica, for example, only about 15 percent of farms are owned by women.
The lack of recognition of women farmers means they have less access to the training they need to deal with the impacts of climate change on agriculture. At the same time, women are often underrepresented at international summits where equity issues are supposed to be addressed. At the last UNCCD summit, only 21 percent of delegates were women, the report said.
Nearly 200 UNCCD parties adopted a gender action plan in 2017, recognizing the important role women play in land restoration and sustainable land management practices, and the report explains how on a regional and global scale.
It also highlights examples of women leading innovative practices to reform land rights, sustainable agriculture and improve land-use technologies.
For example, a female-led irrigation system in India helps store rainwater underground until it can be used during the dry season. A project in the West African country of Benin uses solar energy to help irrigate farmland, freeing women from hand-picking water from rivers and aquifers.
forward from Electrical and Electronic News Licensed by POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved. E&E News provides important news for energy and environment professionals.