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Addressing the gender differentiated investment risks to climate-smart agriculture

Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme at UN Women. Pro Bono Research Professor on Climate Change Management at Stony Brook University.

This paper argues that closing the gender gap in land and other productive resources can provide a “triple dividend” of gender equality, food security and climate management, thereby offering a cost-effective approach to the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, climate change compounds the structural barriers to gender equality that women farmers face, rapidly shrinking the window of opportunity to realize this triple dividend. Yet climate policies largely overlook the gender gap in agriculture.
The growing literature on the gender gap aims to better quantify its implications for agricultural productivity but does not provide a framework to prioritize policy responses. To complement these econometric efforts, this paper proposes a three-step methodology to assist policy-makers in developing countries in disentangling the opportunities and trade-offs of different policies and interventions to close the gender gap that impedes climate-smart agriculture (CSA) for women.Barrier and risk analyses are increasingly used to identify public instruments that can catalyze climate smart investments. Building on this proven methodology, the paper first develops a table that clusters barriers to CSA into nine independent risk categories. Second, it overlays a gender analysis upon this gender-neutral barrier and risk table to identify gender-differentiated risks and barriers to CSA. Third, it maps identified gender-neutral and differentiated investment risks against possible remedial public policy instruments.
The analysis suggests that about half of identified CSA investment risks have a higher probability of occurrence for women farmers than for men farmers. Furthermore, women farmers might face additional gender-specific barriers, mostly linked to their disproportionate responsibility for unpaid domestic and care work, the risk of violence and unequal power relations with men in the household and community. Targeted interventions will be required to address these gender differentiated investment risks and ensure that CSA market transformation efforts benefit men and women farmers equally.
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