UNDP-ALM Case Study: Cambodia (November 2011)

In Cambodia, women make up 65% of farmers, directly contributing to the country's food security and the national agricultural output. They are also the collectors, users and managers of water. Recognition of women’s crucial role as economic and social agents in Cambodia’s water and agricultural sectors is a key starting point for engendering the UNDP’s projects on climate change adaptation. Yet, obstacles continue to limit women’s access to human and financial capital. Women are excluded from decision making, denied access to information on weather patterns and limited by traditional gender roles. These limitations are exacerbated by the disproportionate effects of climate change on women. The anticipated impacts pose serious threats to sustainable development and water resource management. Thus, developing an effective gender strategy for the agricultural sector is essential not only for the promotion of gender equality, but also for economic growth and rural development.

Commitment to engendering Cambodia's climate change projects on resilient water management and agricultural practices requires developing gender sensitive indicators from the project’s outset, adopting sex disaggregated data collection and monitoring them throughout the project's duration. Gender mainstreaming should be used as part and parcel of the project design, implementation and evaluation, not just as an addendum.

Gender equality is both a human rights issue as well as a prerequisite for sustainable development. Incorporating a gendered perspective acknowledges that men and women face different situations, have different capabilities and require different needs to be fulfilled. Thus, they have different responsibilities. Women and children provide nearly all the water for rural households; they know the location, reliability and quality of local water resources despite possessing first-hand knowledge and valuable insights. Yet, their voice in decisions related to water and water resources management is often muted. In climate change, social roles, discrimination and poverty exacerbate women’s experiences of social exclusion and disempowerment. Loss of natural resources and agricultural productivity increase women's workloads and reduce their time to participate in decision making, conservation and income-generating activities. Where the ability to adapt to climate change is closely correlated with access to essential resources such as land, money, credit, tools, healthcare, food security, and shelter, women’s adaptive capabilities are often compromised.