Climate change not only impacts agriculture through weather events such as drought – it also is expected to exacerbate current gender inequalities.
Women are on the frontlines, which is why the impacts of climate change – weather events like floods, droughts, storms etc. – further burden them disproportionately in terms of:
- Agricultural productivity – Women may produce less since climate change makes it harder to perform these tasks.
- Disasters are more likely to kill women – They are often the last ones to leave due to responsibility of care for children and the elderly.
- Time – Droughts and lack of access to water means women and girls spend more time collecting water and travelling further and further to do so. Water collection usually falls to women and girls.
The agricultural sector is often the biggest contributor to a developing country’s GDP. It is often the sector most of the population relies upon for their livelihood in these countries. Women make critical contributions to agriculture in developing countries: On average, women comprise 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries (20% in Latin America to 50% in Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa).
One thing women have in common across regions is that they have less access than men to productive resources and opportunities – land, education, finance, labor and decision making/leadership roles.
The depletion of natural resources and decreasing agricultural productivity caused by climate change place additional burdens on women and reduce their time to participate in decision-making processes and income-generating activities.
Climate-related disasters have been found to impact female-headed households more severely, too, particularly where they have fewer assets to start with. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields, ultimately raising total agricultural output in developing countries, which could in turn also strengthen food security.