Rural Women and Girls are key in Building Climate Resilience

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‘Rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential. The devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship,’ says the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Each 15th of October the world commemorates the International Day of the Rural Women. Humana People to People values the importance of the rural women as they make a frontline of agents of change in pushing for creation of development. In 2019 the day is being marked under the theme: ‘Rural Women and Girls Building Climate Resilience.”

Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Even so, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas. Poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas. Yet smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80 per cent of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people – UN FAO 2018. Women farmers may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts, but are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets and high-value agri-food chains and often obtain lower prices for their crops.

The impacts of climate change, including on access to productive and natural resources, amplify existing gender inequalities in rural areas. Climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict, and climate-related natural disasters.

Humana People to People engages women and girls in its community-based, people driven and people-led social development activities which are mostly responding to strengthening families and communities’ cohesion in improving the conditions of children and equipping farmers with farming skills which ensure food security. Development focus is on empowering the girls and women to gain skills through trainings, to depend on their capacity through awareness raising and utlisation of available resources to support a better life and to work as a collective force in problem solving and identifying opportunities worth exploiting.

By, taking an active role in responding to women’s rights upholding in rural communities the members of Humana People to People thus are implementing various initiatives all centered on addressing effects of poverty, saving lives, building a resilient community against climate shock and imparting skills and techniques vital to improve livelihoods. In India, Mozambique, Congo, D.R., Zambia, Malawi, Belize and South Africa women are working with Humana People to People members through village based clubs were they learn about sexual reproductive health, climate smart agriculture, internal savings and lending schemes, entrepreneurship skills and how to avoid sexual relationships with older men. The initiatives are supporting women and girls in improving the livelihoods of rural women and providing them with the knowledge and tools which enable them to make firm decisions and become equal participants in formulation of household decisions and development agenda of their communities.

Education is thus, integrated in all the initiatives as it plays a key role in improving literacy – as the reading and numeracy skills support effective adoption of government services and general increase on gender equality awareness.