Women play a central role in achieving and maintaining household food security. Climate change has direct impacts on all aspects of food security – from food availability and food accessibility, to food utilization and food system stability. With this new threat, women’s livelihoods are at risk as traditional food sources are becoming less reliable, and sources of income are becoming more vulnerable. UNDP supports innovative strategies for enhancing local adaptive capacity through increasing agricultural production and provisioning, livelihood diversification, and transforming social norms in food production.

Lessons Learned

  • Interventions should build on gendered strategies for ensuring food and nutritional security, including context-specific gender patterns underlying resource rights and responsibilities, diversification of livelihood options (especially for landless women-headed households), and women’s social networks which tend to be informal but provide support for those in vulnerable situations.

  • Acquisition of land and other productive assets (e.g. equipment and technical inputs) can be facilitated through collective arrangements, especially when individual land tenure for women is constrained by social norms and customary practices.

  • Given that women and girls with higher levels of education are more likely to access markets and earn better incomes, investing more in education can lead to enhanced adaptive capacities.

  • It is essential to remove barriers for access to and management of finance and markets for rural women to improve their productive capacity in the agriculture sector.

  • Climate change adaptation projects need to invest in time-saving technology so that women of all age groups have more time to devote to productive activities.

  • By ensuring gender-responsive design and implementation, projects are able to deliver tangible benefits to both women and men. Benefits are multi-layered by providing food and nutritional security benefits, socio-economic benefits, climate-resilience benefits, livelihood benefits, and gender-role diversification benefits.

Strategies for increasing food production and provisioning

In terms of improving food security, merely enhancing crop productivity does not necessarily generate gender-balanced outcomes, with limited benefits to women and to household food security. By exploring options for women to grow the food of their choice (as groups or individuals) and to generate additional income from selling part of the harvest, higher levels of control for women can be ensured. This can be a valuable strategy as it leads to more resilient households.

Successful Examples

Diversifying Livelihood Options

Increasing women’s incomes is an effective means of strengthening resilience and addressing long-term food security. Livelihood diversification options implemented in many countries are often linked to some form of revolving fund operated by women’s groups. Findings suggest that many of these activities and innovations have an underlying gender dimension to them, and contribute, directly or indirectly, to building gender-responsive outcomes.

Successful Examples

Transforming Social Norms in Food Production

The projects initiated by UNDP, have contributed to making women’s roles in food production more visible and effective. The assumption that the main breadwinner in a household is a man, not a woman, has also been called into question, paving the way for transforming social norms around food production and income generation. Changes brought about by the projects translate into direct and indirect impacts in terms of gender relations, solidarity networks and migration patterns.

Successful Examples