How to empower women most affected by climate change

Climate change is displacing populations and livelihoods. According to the United Nations, 80 percent of people displaced by climate change are women. When climate change wreaks havoc on low-income communities, women are less well-equipped to manage these crises due to cultural barriers, gender norms and lack of education. So how can we level the playing field for these women? 

Agriculture is frequently the industry-first affected by climate disasters such as flooding, droughts, and severe storms. This impacts women in particular because, in low-income countries, women rely heavily on agricultural income. For example, 80 percent of all economically active women in India are in the agriculture sector.

Educating women can help them better mitigate the negative effects of climate change on their crops. Resources such as weather forecasting tools as well as knowledge and consultation on climate change will benefit them economically in the long term. Increased education about climate resistance can also help alleviate disease outbreaks that frequently accompany natural disasters.

Lastly, involving more women in key decision-making processes and program design is critical for creating resources that best address the needs of these women. For example, the climate-smart project Lima Work Programme on Gender (LWPG) aims to advance equal participation of women in their initiatives to learn from these disadvantaged women directly about what services would most benefit them.

Low-income women in agriculture will be some of the earliest and hardest hit by climate change. This is already happening. Increasing education services for women and empowering them to come to the table on key decision-making processes will best equip these women with the resources needed to face climate change and ensure their voices are not lost in the process.

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