Women’s Empowerment at the Frontline of Adaptation

Assessment of adaptation practices from a gender perspective ƒ ƒ Alternative technologies decrease women’s workload: The use of alternative technologies, such as biogas and improved cooking stoves, has decreased women’s workload. ƒ ƒ Installation of biogas is expensive: Despite government subsidies, the installation of biogas requires substantial expenditure from the user and, hence, is still out of reach for the poorest of the poor. Natural Disasters Adaptation practices at household/community level ƒ ƒ Vegetation of slopes: Broom grass and bamboo is being planted in and around landslide-prone areas to strengthen slopes and prevent landslides. ƒ ƒ Food storage: Dried food and cereals are being saved for disasters. ƒ ƒ Use of women’s knowledge: Women’s knowledge and networks are being used during disasters. Adaptation practices by organizations ƒ ƒ Seed banks: Seed banks are being promoted in safe places. ƒ ƒ Disaster preparedness training: UNDP conducted disaster preparedness training as part of its Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Programme, which targeted women technical trainings and skill trainings (e.g., masonry). ƒ ƒ Women targeted skill training: Women have been targeted by various organizations for skill training (e.g., masonry). ƒ ƒ Community disaster management committees: Community disaster management committees have been formed in the villages. ƒ ƒ Emergency fund: Emergency funds are being created to help communities in the event of natural disaster. Assessment of adaptation practices from a gender perspective ƒ ƒ Women’s role in disaster risk reduction is not recognized: Women’s roles in, and knowledge of, disaster risk reduction are not recognized or resourced. ƒ ƒ Women have no or limited access to resources: Women have no, or limited, access to resources and services (disaster risk management committees, training, subsidies, grants, and so forth).

Giving women a helping hand Technological innovation: Time saving technologies for household work and agriculture are also a boon for women; these include biogas (mostly used by richer families, particularly in the Terai), mills, pressure cookers, piped water at home, and thrashers (though mostly used by men) (Gill et al. 2012). Men supporting women’s leadership: While women’s workload has increased, there is an emerging trend of men supporting women in household work. This was particularly common in households where women are active in community work and play leadership roles. In particular, women who bring in some cash or non-cash

payments to the family are respected and wholeheartedly allowed to participate by their families and men. For example, a women leader from Kavre had to struggle to get her husband’s permission to attend a workshop in Kathmandu saying that it was voluntary work. However, when she brought home Rs.300 from the daily allowance that she received to participate, her husband was pleased and told that he would allow her to go anytime. In another case in Biratnagar, it was found that a husband fully supports his wife who is today chair of her cooperative and an active member of a citizen ward forum. She has used the forum to mobilize resources for her ward. Both men and women respect her and she is a role model. The value of women’s participation in community work and decision making processes is demonstrated to husbands and families when women bring financial and technical resources to the household and community.


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