Climate crisis and gender inequality are inextricably intertwined. Everyone on the planet is feeling the effects of global heating, but the impact is disproportionately greater for women, and particularly women in sub-Saharan Africa. This is why…
1. Women are highly dependent on natural resources
Agriculture is the engine of growth and rural development in Africa. More than 60 per cent of women in sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture and produce up to 80 percent of the continent’s food.
Rural women’s work is intimately connected with nature. They have developed traditional cropping methods that protect natural resources and are the custodians of knowledge about forest plants and crop varieties.
Being so dependent on farming means that women are much more financially vulnerable when climate shocks affect food production.
2. Women are responsible for providing family food
Even though most women are doing the farming work, they are also expected to prepare and cook every meal. The double responsibility for women is multiplied when crops fail.
One of the farmers we work with, Ann from Kakdhimu West Village in southwestern Kenya says:
“As women we depend on vegetables for food and income. During the dry season the vegetables we grow dry up. I live quite far from the water point. When we cannot get water to irrigate our vegetables we cannot provide for our families.
“We are always at the crossroad: when it’s dry it’s too much, the crops die. When the rain comes it’s too heavy and our crops are swept away.”
3. Women collect the water, and fuel for cooking
Ensuring there is enough water and firewood to use at home is time-consuming, heavy work in rural Africa. Women in sub-Saharan Africa collectively spend four billion hours a year collecting water. Those 'unproductive hours' could have huge health and economic impacts if they were used for agriculture or elsewhere.
Sarah Odhiambi, a farmer in Agulu Kitu village, southwestern Kenya, says: “When its dry we get water from very far: we go to another village which is about 3km away.