CGIAR System Transformation Initiatives join forces at the intersection of gender and climate for inclusive and resilient agrifood systems

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Amidst increasing evidence of climate change’s impact on women and recognizing its pivotal role in driving change and adaptation, policymakers and practitioners are concerned about improving women’s resilience to climate change, engaging them in mitigation and adaptation solutions. This is geared towards ensuring their voices are heard in climate policy debates.

On November 7, CGIAR Gender Equality Research Initiative, HER+, hosted a webinar convening researchers from across Initiatives in the CGIAR Systems Transformation Action Area CGIAR working at the intersection of gender and climate change.

The full webinar is available here Watch the recording.

The webinar, aimed to facilitate the sharing of research findings and gave participants a chance to explore synergies and potential collaboration avenues, creating an environment for advancing research and actions at the intersection of gender equality and climate resilience in the context of agrifood systems.

Opening remarks by Daniel Gilligan, co-lead of HER+, emphasized that this inaugural webinar on gender and climate change research across the CGIAR Systems Transformation (ST) action area marked a significant milestone by showcasing research from across ST initiatives and providing potential to fuel collaborative endeavors that drive gender equality, climate resilience, and sustainable agrifood systems on a global scale. The webinar presentations and ensuing discussion focused on two themes: gender-inclusive governance of natural resources and food systems for climate resilience, and gender-sensitive programming to support climate change adaptation and resilience. Key takeaways include:

Women’s associations as Catalysts for Change

The presentations of research on genderinclusive governance included a study on the role of women’s association in driving deliberations about climate policies.  Katrina Kosec (IFPRI) presented this HER+-supported research from Malawi which found that greater women’s representation in climate-related deliberations changes what policy solutions are discussed in community meetings around deforestation, ensuring that policy solutions in which women have more knowledge and authority rise to the agenda.

Research conducted under the Agroecology initiative by Trent Blare (CIP) highlighted the role of women’s associations in Ecuador as catalysts for agroecological transition and climate-smart practices, emphasizing the need for external support to empower women for broader societal impact. However, despite increased visibility, women still face challenges in society, indicating the need for external support to empower women for broader societal impact.

Gender-Sensitive Programming for Climate Change Adaptation

Kanwal Waqar (IWMI), explained that, in Pakistan, women in rural areas spend a significant amount of time, particularly in regions like Tharparkar, where they travel over 3km to fetch water, devoting 75% of their time to this task. This time burden doubles during climate crises, such as droughts. IWMI’s gender team conducted an in-depth examination of gender dynamics at district and provincial levels, using innovative methodologies to explore various facets. The research objective mapped under CGIAR gender equality, youth and social inclusion impact area aimed to encompass the evaluation of national, provincial, and local bodies’ readiness for gender mainstreaming, assessing women’s involvement in agriculture and Water Resource Management (WRM), examine societal norms influencing gender-defined labor roles, and formulating gender-responsive planning strategies. Following the assessment conducted at both departmental and community levels, a comprehensive series of capacity-building trainings centered on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) within Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) was initiated at the district, provincial, and federal levels. The insights recommended that departments should ensure gender inclusivity throughout various stages of projects. In response to this, a practical guide called the Practitioner’s Cheat Sheet was developed, providing fundamental guidelines for departments to follow. Hands-on training sessions were also organized for farmers under the theme of Irrigation Demand Management, catering to both male and female farmers.

Deboleena Rakshit (IFPRI) presented  HER+ supported study of the Agriculture Nutrition and Gender Linkages (ANGeL) project, a collaboration between IFPRI and the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture from 2015 to 2018.ANGeL demonstrated the success of gender and nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs in achieving sustainable effects on real per capita consumption, women’s empowerment, and asset holdings. Gender and nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs, especially when jointly delivered to spouses, hold the potential to enhance resilience in households, emphasizing the importance of integrated interventions addressing both agricultural and nutritional aspects while promoting gender equality.

Research in Guatemala and Honduras, conducted under the AgriLAC Resiliente initiative by Manuel Francisco (Alliance Bioversity, CIAT) explored the impact of Climate Information Systems (CIS) on the adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices. He showed that women with access to CIS are more likely to adopt agricultural system management and gender-sensitive practices.

Social protection recognized as a promising approach to building climate resilience.

Integrating cash transfers with training through social protection programs is increasingly seen as a promising strategy to build climate resilience at a large scale. Interest has grown in the potential of this approach to address women’s constraints to climate adaptation – including inequitable access to resources.  Shalini Roy (IFPRI) and Tanaya DuttaGupta (ILRI) discussed the results of a study on rural households engaged in the Transfer Modality Research Initiative (TMRI) in Bangladesh, a longstanding research project that receives support from the HER+ initiative. The study revealed that in the North, women, and households receiving cash transfers with training remained significantly better off eight years post-program, while in the South, TMRI interventions supported short-term coping but seemed less effective in promoting longer-term resilience.

Social Justice for climate adaptation

Zimbabwe is facing challenges in meeting its development goals, with the inequality gap widening and extreme poverty doubling between 2011 and 2020. A study led by Patti Petesch under the climate resilience initiative and drawing on GENNOVATE aimed to identify effective entry points for safeguarding the livelihoods of vulnerable rural populations. The study tested an analytic framework tuned to advancing just and equitable adaptation to climate change at multiple scales. By reanalyzing data from the GENNOVATE, which focused on a farming village in Masvingo province, Zimbabwe, the research discussed how gender norms influence agricultural innovation and can play a crucial role in poverty reduction and empowerment.

The findings further emphasized the importance of empowerment interventions through inclusive and participatory community-based strategies. It underscored the significance of a contextualized social justice lens rooted in participatory parity, both in theory and methods, as a strategic approach to transformative adaptation.

Way forward

The discussions following the research presentations acknowledged that there is progress in evidence generation, but there is also a need to continue to gather evidence addressing intersectionality and the relationship of gender equality and climate resilience in food systems and natural resource governance.  In her closing remarks, Ranjitha Puskur (IRRI), Work Package lead in HER+, noted that engaging both women and men is crucial for achieving transformed agrifood systems. She underscored that information and knowledge provision, alone, are insufficient, hence the need to bundle innovations for maximum impact. She explored the relationship between resilience and empowerment, emphasizing that empowering women does not require disempowering men. Ranjitha recognized that there is still a considerable journey ahead of researchers in building evidence and strengthening partnerships to achieve inclusive and resilient agrifood systems.


HER+, the CGIAR Gender Equality Research Initiative, has the goal to stop and reverse the trend of growing inequalities during the climate crisis by building robust evidence and co-designing innovations that tackle four dimensions of structural gender inequality in agrifood systems. These include harmful gender norms and gender-based restrictions on access to resources, markets and technologies, agency, and voice. Our work spans nine countries— Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, and Tanzania—where women in agrifood systems are exposed to considerable climate hazards and face significant structural barriers to gender equality. Our partners include farmers’ networks, governments and national agencies, civil society and nongovernmental organizations, UN agencies, and private sector actors who see the need for research that addresses evidence gaps in what works to promote gender equality and build resilience to climate shocks and stresses.

Authors: Jordan Kyle- Research Fellow in the Poverty, Gender, and Inclusion Unit at IFPRI, and Martha Awinoh- Senior Communication Specialist- CGIAR Gender Equality Initiative, HER+


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