7.1 Module A: Agriculture

Detailed case studies of gender mainstreamed projects in agriculture can be found in Section 8: Case Study A, cropping activities in the South Pacific, and Case Study B, livestock management in Nepal.

7.1.1 Introduction

Agriculture is often defined quite broadly;for this module, the sector includes production and other value chain activities related to irrigated and dryland crops, horticulture, and livestock. Although sometimes included in the agricultural sector elsewhere, forestry, watershed management, fisheries, and integrated coastal management are discussed in other modules below.

Many countries have prioritized agriculture for CCA projects. “Climate-smart agriculture”is also being promoted through other development funding—for example, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These projects are designed to reduce household risks from unpredictable rainfall shortages and surpluses and increase economic resilience. Approaches range from changes to farming practices such as soil and water conservation or crop/animal species diversification;physical measures for wind, water, and erosion protection;integrated pest management;improving access to weather information;reducing risk via better weather information and insurance schemes;and increasing marketing profitability via value-added processes and group approaches to marketing.

7.1.2 Gender issues for agriculture[11]

Gender division of rural labor.
Women are responsible for producing 60–80 percent of the food in developing countries.[12]

However, arrangements vary widely across the world, among men and women for dividing up agricultural responsibilities.

  • Women’s “double-day”has long been observed with respect to agricultural duties and family care responsibilities. In addition to dividing up work differently among men and women, there are also gender differences in men’s and women’s daily and seasonal time commitments that affect logistical arrangements for stakeholder consultations and project meetings.
  • Female-headed households, with absent or migrant male members, often experience labor shortages. Project interventions can inadvertently increase women’s work burdens if the gender division of labor is not considered.
  • Within the value chains for various crops or animals, women often become restricted to less profitable nodes in the chain.
  • Specific gender divisions of labor are particular to a location but they are not static. Changes are made over time, depending on economic and political circumstances and social changes.

Gender differences in production decisions.
Gender relations and norms often drive household decisions regarding which crops and types of animals are managed by women or by men.

  • Women may be discouraged from growing trees, which make a long-term claim on the land. In agroforestry activities, men will more often grow trees for building poles and sales, whereas women have a greater interest in horticultural trees for family nutrition. In most areas, men more often than women grow cash crops and women sometimes lose access to land when men expand their plots or shift to new cash crops.
  • Men and women also have different roles in freshwater aquaculture and the collection of wild food sources to adapt to climate and economic variability. In addition, men and women often have different and complementary bases of traditional knowledge about plant and animal care, as well as wild plant and wildlife management. Women often shoulder a major part of the responsibility for the
    maintenance of animal health and productivity and understand and monitor wild ecosystem conditions for forage.This knowledge also drives gender differences in production decisions.
  • Gendered patterns of decision-making and consultation in poorer rural households are often different and sometimes more egalitarian than the local cultural norms for gender relations and the division of labor that are practiced by more elite households.

Women have more insecure rights to land and water and lower rates of property ownership.
Women’s access to land and other natural resources is often mediated by spouses, fathers, or clan leaders.

  • Women’s rate of land ownership is very low in most countries, despite constitutional protections. They are often disenfranchised from community property that was shared with their spouse when they become widowed. (A World Bank project addressing this issue is summarized in Box 8.)
  • Women are much less likely to own large livestock than men;women sometimes own cattle provided by their families as dowry. As noted above, women’s more insecure tenure means that as land gains in value, either due to crop prices or land markets, women are often displaced from their allocated fields by male relatives.
  • Lack of land ownership—or at least secure tenure rights—means that women do not have the required collateral for credit or other financial mechanisms from formal financial institutions or meet the requirements for membership in some producer, marketing, or water user associations. It also means that in areas where land-grabbing is occurring by large-scale agricultural interests, women’s rights are at greater risk.

    Box 8. Joint titling in Lao PDR

    The Lao First Land Titling Project (World Bank) realized, after a large survey by the Lao Women’s Union, that women were more likely to be disadvantaged by the design of the project. Under customary tenure without land titling, 82 percent of the land was recognized as woman-owned or conjugally owned. That number dropped to 23 percent with formal land titling. After retrofitting and a partnership agreement between the project and the women’s organization, the project was able to formalize women’s rights and increase their tenure security via formal land registration for women owners and joint couple ownership.

    Bell, K.C. 2009. “Trends in land administration and management with particular reference to World Bank support for projects in the East Asia region.” Presented at the Seventh FIG Regional Conference, 19–22 October 2009,
    Hanoi, Vietnam. http://www.fig.net/pub/monthly_articles/november_2009/november_2009_bell.pdf

  • Because of the largely subsistence nature and family-food provision orientation of their farming, women farmers are often not recognized by authorities as “farmers.”Their provision of household foods and their land use is often unrecognized and may be at the end of the hierarchy of land uses, including in developed countries’agricultural development schemes. Yet their production is crucial for food security in countries affected by climate change.

Women have reduced access to other productive assets and services.
Women have less access to formal credit and other financial mechanisms;increasingly, though, they gain access via membership in women’s groups. However, they may have difficulty in borrowing more than microcredit amounts due to the following:

  • They receive less service from government extension services for agriculture and livestock and may not be reached at all if they come from traditional societies and if there are few (if any) female extension workers. If extension agents do not use tailored gender-specific extension and information channels and approaches that take account of women’s roles, functions, mobility, and time constraints and schedules, they are less likely to be successful at reaching women.
  • If women grow fewer or no cash crops and do not have other sources of income, they are less likely to be able to afford agricultural inputs or new technologies.
  • Access to crop or livestock insurance is limited in general and women may not be members of the producer or marketing groups that secure group plans.

Women face more market-related barriers.
Even in societies without
rules, women are less likely to have personal vehicles and bicycles, relying more on public transportation than do men. Women have lower rates of membership in producer cooperatives or may be restricted from joining. For those women who make their livelihood from buying and selling or selling in municipal markets, they often face greater levels of harassment, including sexual harassment, from officials when obtaining marketing permits or space.

Women receive lower pay and have less work security than men.
For agricultural and off-farm work, women often cannot escape the informal sector or temporary seasonal work. They are often paid less than men and are fired before men.

Gender relations influence the division and expenditure of women’s income.
Cultures vary widely with respect to the degree of pooling of men’s and women’s income. Often, some income is pooled and some is retained separately.

  • Women can, and do, retain control of many household expenditures (e.g., in the Philippines), but the size and nature of the expenditure can be assigned to one sex or the other.
  • Women often have greater responsibility for expenses related to their children’s education and health and for purchases of family food. Accordingly, they may have less cash to invest in their farms or agriculturally related businesses.
  • Increased income to men for their cash crops does not necessarily benefit other family members.

7.1.3 Gender-agriculture issues in the context of climate change

Climate change leads to different choices about crop and animal species, management, and investments.
Traditional varieties of crops, livestock, and trees may have lower productivity on an annual basis but may have more reliability under drought conditions. In theory, CCA projects would promote drought- or salinity-tolerant species to cope with ecosystem changes, but new species could put families at risk. If new crops or varieties are profitable and dominated by men, they may result in displacing women from the plots where they previously cultivated subsistence food crops and the increased income may not go toward family expenses.

Climate changes may increase agricultural labor demands.
New breeds of animals and high-yield crop species often require elevated levels of care and more inputs than traditional varieties.

  • For animal husbandry, women’s workload may increase. If commercial livestock production technologies or new cash crops are only provided to men, women’s traditional workload and responsibilities for family nutrition are likely to increase.
  • The priorities of project planners for agricultural intensification may attach little value to women’s time, risk management strategies, and responsibilities for family food security. To meet labor shortages, households may increase responsibilities for their children, especially girls, thereby reducing their school attendance. However, to increase resilience, time- and labor-saving technologies that are useful to women can have an overall positive impact on household livelihood and productivity. Zero-grazing schemes may provide insurance against reduced wild forage but often mean increased work load for women and girls.[13]

Climate change can result in seasonal food shortages.
Rural households have traditional strategies for ensuring food supplies in the event of floods and droughts.

  • Women are often responsible for food and seed storage. They generally control small livestock and process their by-products that can be a source of ready cash in emergencies.[14]
  • Dairy products, which are often women’s responsibilities, and other animal products (e.g., bees, silkworms) provide families with more regular income than either crops or animal sales.
  • Women may increase their collection of wild plants and game to unsustainable levels to make up for crop and protein shortages.

7.1.4 Gender entry points for CCA agricultural projects

Conducting gender-sensitive vulnerability assessments for agricultural systems
. These activities can take place at the national, subnational, and local levels.

  • At the local level, a number of
    rapid participatory appraisal techniques
    , modified to collect sex-disaggregated information about agriculture and land, integrate well with vulnerability assessments. (These are described in the further readings on gender analysis methodology in Section 6 and listed in the Bibliography in References.) They document gender differences in farming practices and use of time. They map men’s and women’s plots;ownership, control, and access rights to resources for men and women;map social and institutional relations;highlight gender differences in indigenous traditional knowledge and resilience practices;and catalyze discussions of needs, priorities, barriers, and opportunities.
  • Gender-sensitive value chain analyses
    can document men’s and women’s relative participation at various links of the chain for important crops, livestock, and non-farm products such as handicrafts.
  • Consultative meetings and exercises
    , with representative numbers of women and men, can be applied at local, subnational, or national level to elicit gender differences in perceptions of climate vulnerability, priorities for CCA activities, and ideas for solutions.
  • Secondary information
    can provide national statistics on land tenure laws and policies, gendered access to credit and insurance, and farm investment practices by women and men.

Planning and design of gender-sensitive adaptation strategies
. Several types of agricultural activities for CCA projects are of particular priority because they can result in increased household resilience and also advance gender equality:

  • Reform land tenure arrangements to increase security for women and men.
  • Expand women’s access to more profitable crops, animals, and value chain segments.
  • Promote appropriate labor-saving technologies for women and men, with special attention to reducing the drudgery of women for care-related tasks.
  • Expand women’s access to credit, insurance, and other financial mechanisms.

For those activities focused on women’s participation, buy-in and support from men are critical at the household and community levels and/or from the leadership of key organizations.

In this phase of the project cycle, prior to proposal writing, stakeholders are consulted to solicit and vet project design ideas. Communication activities are designed to build ownership and refine project design.

  • Gender-sensitive institutional analyses
    of the proposed executing ministry/agency, as well as credit and insurance providers, can help to identify gender capacities and weaknesses. Client consultations can round out the picture of gaps with respect to gender-equitable services and staffing.
  • Institutional mapping
    , within countries and regions, can identify possible partnerships and expertise available to support gender mainstreaming. At a local level, a closer look is needed at both producer and marketing groups, as well as social networks, in the proposed project areas to determine barriers and opportunities for women to become members (e.g., changing membership rules to joint husband-wife membership and setting targets for women’s participation), to participate and benefit fully and to take leadership roles.
  • Social network mapping and conflict mapping
    for a specific area can pinpoint where demand for agricultural land is particularly contentious and how the rights of the poor—especially women from female-headed households—will be protected.

Prior to selection of technologies, crops, and livestock with positive CCA outcomes, the top choices will need to be vetted with both men and women to identify which are most likely to be of use to and affordable for women, least likely to increase demand for women’s labor, and what will be needed in terms of extension services and capacity building. For irrigated agriculture projects, it will be important to identify how to address other household and community water needs that touch the lives of the majority of women (e.g., aquaculture, personal hygiene and laundry, home gardens, potable water for humans and livestock) and how women can be engaged in decisions about the siting of canals and other infrastructure. (A CCA project targeting coastal women farmers in Bangladesh is summarized in Box 9.) Box 10 lists additional literature sources on gender and agriculture.

Box 9. Supporting coastal women farmers in a climate adaptation project

Through CCA funding from the LDCF and government co-financing, the Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change through Coastal Afforestation Project in Bangladesh was designed to “empower women through engagement in the planning and design of activities to build long-term adaptive capacity, such as the development of household- and community-level risk reduction plans, identifying climate-resilient livelihoods, and improving information flows regarding extreme events.” There is a component for training 100 women in climate-risk reduction and livelihood diversification and monitoring training results.

Schalatek, L., and M. Cook. 2011. The Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund: Exploring the gender dimensions of climate finance mechanisms. UNDP, New York.

Implementing gender-sensitive agricultural interventions for CCA.
The agricultural sector was one of the first to begin gender mainstreaming for extension services. There are already well-established examples of reforms within agricultural ministries, at both high levels via gender training and creation of gender strategies and GAPs.

  • Efforts have been made to reform recruitment practices to include more women technicians, such as the hiring of women livestock assistants from local communities for field work, and improving field conditions for women staff.
  • Extension workers from both government and NGOs have adjusted what they promote, where they promote it (e.g., minimizing travel requirements), how they promote it via their communications and logistics, and whom they work with to ensure that women have improved access to extension services, input, technologies, and auxiliary services for credit, insurance, other financial products and marketing. For example, in the Nepal livestock development case (see Section 8, Case Study B), once the Ministry of Livestock Development learned that goats were of much greater interest to women clients than other livestock, it adjusted their offerings.

7.1.5 Monitoring Gender Impacts[15]

TABLE 6. Illustrative Gender Indicators for Agricultural CCA Projects
Intervention Area Illustrative Indicators
Consultation inclusiveness Number and percentage of men and women, by social group, consulted about project plans and frequency
Improving gender balance of staff, partners or clients/client groups Percentage of men and women for target group
Active participation Number and percentage of men and women, actively participating in consultations, workshops, and committee meetings
Leadership Number and percentage of women serving in leadership positions in producer, marketing, and planning groups
Increased farm productivity Crop yield changes on men’s and women’s plotsYield changes or livelihood changes for households headed by women and those headed by couples or men
Technology/practice adoption Uptake of new technology/practice by sex and land holding size
Nontraditional practices or roles adopted Number and percentage of women engaged in agricultural practices and roles which are new for women in their areas
Women’s status changes by household or community Proxy measures related to relative roles, by sex, in household expenditure decisions or incorporation of women’s priorities into group or community plans
Time availability Changes in weekly forage and water collection time, by sex Changes in free time, per week, for women and men Changes in income earned by sex over time
Service provided Percentage of men and women clients
Inclusive service provided Percentage of women from female-headed households, socially marginalized, landless groups served by extension
Client satisfaction Satisfaction level changes with agricultural extension or other services (e.g., credit providers)Reported extension visits/meeting in past year, by sex
Relative budget allocation for gender mainstreaming activities Percentage of total budget spent on gender-focused and women-targeting empowerment activities
Adoption and level of implementation of gender strategies and plans Number and type of activities undertakenPercentage of plan completed
Policy change Inclusion, protection and/or improvement of women’s tenure rights in new or reformed laws or regulation

Box 10. Further reading about gender and agriculture