Women’s Empowerment at the Frontline of Adaptation

Box 9: Impacts of climate change on women: Key emerging issues and gaps

Increase in women’s workload and drudgery: The drudgery of rural women that may have eased a bit by several years of development interventions and modernization seems to be reappearing in different forms due to varying impacts of climate and other changes. Barring a few cases, men have not shared the increased workload and responsibilities of women. Loss of income of women: With a decline in agricultural production and decrease in forest produce, rural women’s traditional sources of personal income and women led or owned small and micro-enterprises are being affected. Increased household workload do not give them time to invest in income generating activities and businesses. Reinforcement of women’s exclusion: Increasing gap in power relations between men and women due to decreasing participation of women in resource governing and decision making bodies has reinforced women’s exclusion. This has resulted in decline in the ability of women to seize opportunities for learning new skills, information and mobilize financial resources for their development. Backsliding of rural women’s achievements and roles: There is a declining trend in the achievements of rural women achieved through collective power of organized groups. Climate change programmes and policies often tend to present women as victims rather than as key actors in adaptation. This has also affected their status/position in the community. Declining women’s leadership: Over the years, development interventions had built women’s capacity to take leadership positions. The space to practice leadership by rural women is, however, decreasing. The women themselves are not able to fully participate as institutions that facilitate them are not sensitive to their challenges and their dual role as public figure and home-maker. There is very little attempt to make extra efforts to enable women to participate more meaningfully. Mismatch between demand and supply: Despite the concerns around climate change and its impact on natural resources, both the state and non-state development interventions are unable to address the needs at the local level. The failure to internalize the different needs, knowledge and capacities of men and women to cope with climate change have resulted in programmes that fail to meet the particular needs, demands and interests of women. Increase in health issues: Lack of proper nutrition, hygiene and use of chemicals in agriculture has led to increase in women related health issues such as uterus prolapse. There is a need to revisit primary health care and women issues and services in the context of climate change impacts. Lack of access to financial resources: The existing financial mechanisms such as VDC development grants and CFUGs in general have failed to work for women in the context of climate change impacts. Rural women need access to financial resources to purchase new and alternative technologies, invest in infrastructures and income generation acitivites to adapt to economic hardship brought about by climate and other changes.


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