Gender Equality


Gender and social inequalities are deeply entrenched within our global agrifood systems. This limits the potential of women – especially those from agriculture-dependent communities — to be empowered to build social, economic and technological resilience to climate change. Women co-developing and co-designing solutions is essential to successfully transforming agrifood systems in a climate crisis. 

Structural gender inequalities such as harmful norms, unequal responsibilities and restrictive masculinities make women particularly vulnerable to shocks and stressors such as climate change, conflict, state fragility and pandemics. Although gender-transformative approaches mitigate these inequalities and can boost climate resilience among women, substantial inequalities persist. 

Socio-technical innovations targeting climate resilience are not adequately designed or bundled to encourage uptake by women, nor are they diffused at the pace or scale required for system transformation. Social protection systems often fail to address constraints faced by women, and agrifood system governance structures often significantly disfavor them. More research is needed on how to address these constraints and transform agrifood systems to reduce gender inequality. 


This Initiative aims to use impactful gender research to address the four dimensions of gender inequality by applying gender-transformative approaches to harmful norms, bundling socio-technical innovations for women’s empowerment, leveraging social protection to increase women’s access to and control over resources, and promoting inclusive governance and policies for increased resilience. 


This objective will be achieved through:

  • Promoting gender transformative approaches targeting structures that create social inequalities by reducing normative constraints that limit women’s capacity to build economic resilience to climate change challenges. 
  • Co-designing and testing bundled innovations for women’s empowerment as partners and drivers of climate change solutions, by identifying context-specific social and technical innovations that lead to equal uptake of and benefits for women, men and youth in agrifood systems. 
  • Enabling gender-responsive social protection by co-designing and testing how social protection and complementary programs can inclusively address gender inequality and poverty, build resilience and support women in mitigating and adapting to effects of climate change. 
  • Encouraging inclusive and responsive governance and policies whereby women, youth and marginalized groups are consulted and heard in the process of making policies and investments, including those related to climate change. 


This Initiative will work in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania as a priority and will explore work in two additional focal countries: Egypt and Vietnam. 


Proposed 3-year outcomes include:

  1. National agencies, civil society organizations and CGIAR Initiatives in at least two low- and middle-income countries target normative constraints that limit the capacities of women food system actors to build economic resilience to climate change challenges using gender-transformative approaches. 
  2. Learning Labs nested in other CGIAR Initiatives and downstream partners in two low- and middle-income countries, together with this Initiative, identify and model diverse scenarios for bundling climate-smart technologies to empower women to be partners and drivers of climate change solutions. 
  3. Stakeholders involved in social protection programs — including governments, international NGOs, UN agencies and donors — across at least three low- and middle-income countries use this Initiative’s evidence to understand how social protection systems can be better leveraged to boost rural women’s climate resilience and reduce gender inequality.  
  4. Government, NGOs, civil society organizations and/or private sector actors in at least three low- and middle-income countries use learning and guidance from the Initiative to better understand how social innovations, organizational strategies and government and private-sector policies can increase the voice and agency of women in agrifood system governance and their resilience to climate change. 


        Projected impacts and benefits include:



        Women, youth and other vulnerable groups become proactive agents of agrifood systems transformation, benefiting from enhanced agency in policy dialogues, greater participation in the co-design of innovations and programs, and a better ability to demand, access and control use of services and technologies, contributing to gender equality, empowerment and greater resilience to climate change for 3.5 million women.


        Inclusive take-up of climate-smart food production technologies, gender-responsive social protection to support women’s food access and production, and strategies to increase women’s voice and agency in climate-relevant nutrition and health services remove barriers to equality and elevate women’s vital roles both as entrepreneurs and producers of healthy foods and as decision-makers and consumers for their own and other household members’ diets and health, benefiting 4.6 million people.


        Addressing gendered barriers to emerging from poverty and offering women opportunities to build resilience to climate change contributes to addressing key drivers of poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities and jobs in the context of climate change in target and focal countries, benefiting 5.6 million people.


        Women are empowered beyond accessing and using climate-smart technologies, moving towards designing and driving such technologies that include social protection and transformative solutions for 3.3 million people. Women are equipped to contribute to the development and implementation of gender-responsive actions beyond national adaptation plans and nationally determined contributions in the different target countries. 


        Implementation of tried and tested socio-technical innovation bundles, which include digital support, enhanced decision-making, participatory development and application of context-specific strategies, has a positive impact on the status and management of natural resources in target sites, bringing 738,000 hectares under improved management. 


        Projected benefits are a way to illustrate reasonable orders of magnitude for impacts which could arise as a result of the impact pathways set out in the Initiative’s theories of change. In line with the 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy, Initiatives contribute to these impact pathways, along with other partners and stakeholders. CGIAR does not deliver impact alone. These projections therefore estimate plausible levels of impact to which CGIAR, with partners, contribute. They do not estimate CGIAR’s attributable share of the different impact pathways.


        Header photo: Female farmers attending an information meeting on solar pumps in India. Photo by C. de Bode/CGIAR.


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