TODAY -

Rural women and girls building climate resilience

Ranjan K Baruah *



Most of our population still lives in rural areas. There are many countries where rural population is more than urban population. In rural areas we could see that man migrates more to towns or metros in search of jobs or livelihood opportunities. We could see more women stays in rural areas as they have to take care of their families.

Women and girls have contributed towards sustainability of their rural households and it has been recognised and seen in many parts of the world including India.

Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Though extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas. Poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas.

Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women, and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

There is no doubt that there is still impact of patriarchal thinking which bring barriers and discriminatory social norms that constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men.

Globally, one in three employed women works in agriculture. Women collect biomass fuels, manually process foodstuffs, and pump water — 80% of households without piped water rely on women and girls for water collection. Rural women are at the forefront of the battle lines when natural resources and agriculture are threatened.

For example, a quarter of the total damage and loss resulting from climate-related disasters from 2006 to 2016 was suffered by the agricultural sector in developing countries, significantly impacting rural women and girls’ food security and productive potential.

October 15th is observed as ‘International Day of Rural Women’ and the first day was observed on 15th October 2008. This new international day, established by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

As the world faces a critical need to act against climate change, this year’s theme highlights the important role that rural women and girls play in building resilience to face the climate crisis. This year’s theme is ‘Rural Women and Girls Building Climate Resilience’.

António Gutterres, Secretary General of United Nations on his on the occasion of international rural women day has said that “rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential.

The devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship. Almost a third of women’s employment worldwide is in agriculture. Women cultivate land, collect food, water and essential fuels, and sustain entire households, but lack equal access to land, finances, equipment, markets and decision-making power.”

He also said that “listening to rural women and amplifying their voices is central to spreading knowledge about climate change and urging governments, businesses and community leaders to act. As early adopters of new agricultural techniques, first responders in crises and entrepreneurs of green energy, rural women are a powerful force that can drive global progress”.

We are already aware on the issue of climate change and its impacts. One of the most effective ways to achieve progress on the threats posed by climate change is addressing gender inequality. There is no doubt that empowered women have greater capacity to respond to climate change and they play important roles in adopting low-carbon technologies, spreading knowledge about climate change, and urging action.

All of us need to fight against climate change but as this year theme on this day, rural women and girls may contribute more when it comes to combating climate change. Let us all join hands and take action to combat climate change and bring sustainable future for all of us.


(With direct inputs from UN publication )


* Ranjan K Baruah wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer cab be contacted at bkranjan(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on October 23, 2019.



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