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Economic empowerment of women through the adoption of climate-resilient agricultural practices

Increasing regional priorities and investments in environmentally and gender responsive Climate-Smart Agriculture.


Poverty-Environment Action Technical Assistance will continue partnering with UN Women in capacity-building activities supporting Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA). The technical assistance projects at country level will also partner with the relevant ministries of finance and planning, gender as well as ministries of statistics.


The technical assistance project builds on the rich knowledge and tools developed during Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) with UN Women on the cost of the gender gap in agriculture studies in the five countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Poverty-Environment Action has provided technical support in incorporating a strong focus on environmental sustainability in the proposal. The technical assistance will focus on broadening the tools to other countries specifically on expanding the gender-agriculture and environment tools to two other countries in Africa. The aim of the tools will be to influence decision-makers to provide enhanced support to female farmers, by demonstrating that addressing the gender gap in agriculture will bring development benefits through improved food security and reduced poverty. New studies will also have a stronger focus on the role that women play in climate change adaptation, mitigation and environmental sustainability in the agricultural sector.

Mainstreaming Context

Over 60 percent of people are smallholder farmers and rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, and women represent over half of the agricultural labour force. Environmentally unsustainable agricultural practices are a serious problem that contribute to low productivity, increasing food insecurity and worsening poverty thus creating a vicious cycle. Taken together, climate change and gender-differentiated adaptation to climate change have significant implications for agricultural productivity and poverty reduction. Unless female farmers receive enhanced support on a continuing basis, it will not be possible to achieve adequate levels of agricultural sustainability, climate resilience and climate risk reduction. Addressing the development challenge requires targeted policy and programmatic investments towards women farmer groups in their respective countries. Policy makers need to be guided by evidence on how to develop and implement gender-responsive CSA policies and strategies.

Main Activities

The technical assistance focuses on developing of country specific and regional tools and strengthening their application into governments plans and strategies that can enhance women’s agricultural productivity while increasing climate resilience. Development of tools will go hand in hand with capacity building of the relevant government ministries (Finance, Agriculture, and Environment) on the application of the tools. A regional approach to the development of good practice in the collection of better gender and poverty-environment data will go hand-in-hand with the knowledge sharing and South-South learning.

Expected Achievements

The project will conduct the studies on the cost of gender gap in agricultural productivity in at least two countries to contribute to evidence-based capacity building of targeted governments on integrating gender sensitive CSA approaches in policies.

It will also conduct South-south cooperation conducted on mainstreaming and implementing gender-responsive CSA policies and strategies.

Lessons Learned

The technical assistance project builds on the work done on the studies of the gender gap in agricultural productivity in five countries (Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia) by UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) Africa and the UN Women Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESARO). The studies deepen the understanding of women’s and men’s vulnerability to climatic variations and environmental degradation as well as explore how gender gaps in agriculture might influence unsustainable agricultural practices, environmental degradation and poverty.

At country level, the research is generating important policy and investments changes. For example, informed by the findings of the 2015 study and with technical inputs from UN Women and the PEI, the Government of Malawi included a strong focus on empowering women farmers in its 2016 National Agricultural Policy. Building on this work, UN Women have developed a Multi-Country Project proposal - Economic Empowerment of women in East and Southern Africa through climate-smart agriculture, which also outlines key lessons.  

The Way Forward

The technical assistance project has been strategically designed to broaden the application of gender-environment assessment tools through a UN Women multi-country proposal and based on existing long-term partnership between the agencies. With this strong partnership, the project will strengthen the broader UN Women and Poverty-Environment Action country and regional programming. To enhance sustainability with government partners, the project has been designed to engage and build the capacity of government throughout the process of conducting research and how to apply the findings in policy development.  Furthermore, capacity building through South-South experiences will also enable country project stakeholders, donors and private sector to learn experiences on integration of gender-agriculture-environment analysis into programmes, strategies and policies.

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