Despite the pivotal role women hold in the management of food and water, they often have limited access to and control of crucial resources – including land, crops, livestock, tools and financial services. This lack of access and control contributes to women’s vulnerability, and limits their ability to make decisions about these resources. Improving access, ownership and control over resources can increase investment and productivity, resulting in more resilient livelihoods.

Lessons Learned

  • To ensure gender-responsive adaptation, it is imperative to understand and recognize how existing gender relations reproduce gender inequalities and keep women from controlling resources that are essential for their family's survival. This could include examining mechanisms, social norms and institutional arrangements that affect gender biases.

  • Getting endorsement from local authorities and working with them to find solutions, especially for women's access to land secures their right to ownership in the community sphere.

  • Being creative about arrangements for women's land ownership can lead to positive outcomes. This is especially critical when traditional arrangements are fraught with gender inequity. It could include supporting women's collectives or associations, as these appear to be very effective at overcoming barriers faced by women individually.

  • Investing in women's literacy and girls' education is a precondition for increasing women's control over household finances, as well as project or community budgets.

Options for securing women’s control over land and livestock

One of the best entry points for enhancing women’s access and control over resources is through agricultural land and livestock. These productive assets provide an opportunity for women to engage in decision-making and productive activities that contribute to household income.

For rural women, gaining access to land means they can produce and earn, thus increasing their capacity to cope with climate change and to overcome food insecurity. Additionally, evidence suggests that by gaining access to productive resources, women earn respect. An interesting finding from experience is that community authorities play an important role in securing access to land for women. Direct access to productive resources for women that are not mediated through a husband or son translates into increased participation in decision-making at household and community levels

Successful Examples

Gender-responsive management of natural resources

Preserving and developing natural resources is essential to building the adaptive capacity of rural communities. Cultivated land, forests, mangroves, wetlands and coastal zones, for example, are all critical sources of livelihood for rural and coastal areas. Women’s and men’s differing knowledge systems, needs and priorities are reflected in their approaches to managing natural resources.

Successful Examples

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Multiple rationales for promoting women’s control over incomes and budgets

In adaptation projects, it is important to create conditions for women's groups to have control over the resources they generate through collective action. This could include revenues from processing units, user fees for water access, or rent for lending out equipment. Investing in women's literacy and girls' education increases opportunities for women to exert control over household finances, as well as budgets of local associations or groups. It is essential to implement specific measures to promote women's financial management skills and gender-responsive budgeting at all levels.

Successful Examples