CLIMATEWIRE | According to a UN report, women in much of the world are more prone than men to earthquake and desertification shocks due to systemic sexism.

This is largely due to the lack of land rights and social justice, which exclude women from access to capital, education, technical assistance and government.

Commissioned by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the report finds that women who often engage in farming practices are not recognized as farmers because of gender norms. This limits their access to funding, information and services needed to protect them from climate-related damage, such as drought.

Without land ownership or assets that can serve as collateral, women are struggling to secure loans and credits that can help them recover from climate damage, the report said. And without access to money and technology, women are less able to adopt sustainable land management practices that could help prevent further climate damage or increase yields.

“Fair land management and land protection are crucial to address women’s-led land rebuilding efforts,” the report said.

Women play a vital, albeit often unrecognized, role in the global food system. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, women make up almost half of those employed in agriculture in low-income countries, but much of this work is unpaid and involves excessive burdens.

“Women are key players in global efforts to reduce and reverse land degradation. They restore the land, they protect the land, they value, nurture and care for the land, while caring for others, “said Ibrahim Tiau, executive secretary of the Convention to Combat Desertification, according to the report’s introduction.

Gender discrimination and norms that do not recognize their role may increase the burdens facing women and the world’s ability to cope with growing threats to land-based resources (GreenwireApril 27).

Get early warning systems. The report finds that climate forecasts that would help women prepare for drought are often shared at meetings that women cannot attend.

Disadvantages are not evenly distributed among all genders, the study notes. Other aspects of identity such as ethnicity, income, marital status, disability and rural or urban location also play an important role, it said.

It also looks at the impact on women’s health. In all regions, women care more than men, and drought and land degradation tend to increase the burden of their homework, forcing women to walk farther or wait in long queues to collect water, the report said.

“Women left to run their households may not have the strength to make timely agricultural decisions or react to the effects of drought, land degradation and desertification or extreme weather events,” the study said.

In many countries, women are restricted in their ability to access or own land, and in more than 100 countries, women are denied the right to inherit property belonging to their husbands due to religious, customary or traditional laws.

But even in countries where women’s legal rights to land are the same as men’s, farm ownership is still predominantly in men’s hands. In Costa Rica, for example, only about 15 percent of farms are owned by women.

The lack of recognition of women farmers means that they have less access to the training needed to respond to the effects of climate change on agriculture. At the same time, women are often not represented at international summits where justice issues need to be addressed. Only 21 percent of the delegates to the last summit on the Convention to Combat Desertification were women, the report said.

Nearly 200 countries that are parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification have adopted an action plan for gender equality in 2017, which recognizes the important role that women play in land rebuilding and sustainable land management practices, and the report proposes recommendations on how women’s participation can be improved regionally and globally.

He also highlighted examples of women leading innovative practices to reform land rights, sustainable agriculture and improve land use technologies.

A women’s irrigation system in India, for example, helps store rainwater underground while it can be used during dry periods. A project in Benin, a West African country, uses solar energy to help irrigate fields, freeing women from the need to manually collect water from rivers and aquifers.

Reprinted from E&E news courtesy of POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/women-bear-the-brunt-of-drought-shocks/

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