Does gender make a difference in dealing with climate shifts?
October 27th, 2010
- Men and women farmers agree that the weather has changed over the past thirty years, but view the impacts differently. Men are more likely to report that the weather changes have impacted farm production, while women are more likely to report that they have affected health.
- Women and men have different opinions of who is impacted by extreme climate events. Women (26.4%) are much more likely than men (7.4%) to report that women were most affected by drought.
- There is a strong gender difference in preferred strategies for coping with long-term increased climate variability. When asked what livelihood strategies they would adopt if the weather was no longer predictable from year to year, men would prefer to migrate (47% men vs. 18% women would migrate) while women would opt to go for wage labour (38% men vs. 57.5% women).
- Men and women have different strategies for coping with food scarcity, and they also do not share the same perception of these strategies. To cope with food scarcity during a drought year, 5% of men note that the women eat less, while 17% of women report that women eat less as a coping strategy.
- The majority of farmers are not receiving vital information on weather alerts or cropping patterns, however this lack of access to information is much more acute among women. Only 21% of women report having access to this information versus 47% of men.
- Gender is the greatest predictor of institutional support, greater than caste or size of land holding.
Based on the preliminary results, the answer posed at the beginning can be answered: Yes. Gender does make a difference in dealing with climate shifts as research in the South of India shows, both for the farmers responding on a daily basis and to policymakers providing long-term institutional support. It is clear that interventions must consider climate shifts in terms of what it means to the world’s most vulnerable people, especially poor women and men farmers.
Planning for adaptation to long term change should be founded on men and women farmers’ knowledge and experiences as they make choices in an uncertain climate.