Creating Gender-responsive Climate Services
Women and men farmers can be differentially vulnerable to climate-related risk due in part to the varied roles and responsibilities that they carry out in their communities and households. While climate services can be critical for enhancing farmers’ adaptive capacities, women and men can face varying opportunities and challenges to accessing climate services and implementing climate information in agricultural decision-making. It is important that climate services interventions incorporate mechanisms to address gender inequalities in order to promote climate-resilient agriculture.
Although gender and climate services is an active area of research, the existing knowledge base can offer helpful insights into how to address gender inequalities concerning access to and use of climate services. For instance, gender differences in access to farmers’ groups and associations can influence women’s access to technical information, trainings and planning processes surrounding climate-resilient agriculture. A potential way forward is for climate services interventions to include women’s groups and networks as communication channels. Also, socio-cultural norms surrounding labor roles and resource access can influence the decisions under women’s and men’s control. This has important implications for the types of weather and climate information women and men may need. For this reason, it is critical that interventions strive to understand and meet women’s climate information preferences in order to make sure that services are truly useful to them. These and other gender challenges and recommendations are summarized in the Info Note, “What We Know about Gender and Rural Climate Services,” produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
Another promising avenue for the development of gender-responsive climate services lies in engaging the private sector. Case studies being developed by Winrock International under the USAID-funded Learning Agenda on Climate Services in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) look at 14 private sector companies involved in climate information services in SSA. In their findings, they highlight that companies involved with the end users are more likely to consider gender in designing the data content and delivery mechanism of climate information services, e.g. using interactive voice recognition messaging for illiterate farmers.
The collective research emerging from the Learning Agenda on Climate Services in SSA suggests that much more needs to be done to understand the underlying factors and processes that can inhibit or enable gender-responsive climate services. Actions that inform and engage the diverse actors involved in climate services on issues of gender challenges and best practices will also be key in order to ultimately attain climate-resilient agriculture.