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Gender in Climate Resilience: Preliminary Results using SHARP

This post was written by Suzanne Phillips and Maria Hernandez Lagana of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in conjunction with other members of the SHARP team. This post is the last in a three-part series from the FAO. You can read the first post here and the second post here.

Gender matters for climate resilience and adaptation of women and men

In many contexts, women are considered to be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men, primarily as they tend to be poorer (especially in the case of female-led households) and more dependent on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. The differences women experience in their households, societies and communities may therefore affect their capacity to cope with climate change. Conversely, climate change may affect the capacity of women to carry out the specific roles they have within those communities and households, therefore affecting the overall resilience of the system.

Integrating gender considerations in SHARP

SHARP assesses climate resilience at household and community levels. While not aimed specifically at women, the tool was built to avoid potential gender biases in the identification of household level climate priorities that might result from question formulation and content and data collection methodology. Through consultation with gender experts, a large number of questions on access to resources (water, land, genetic, information, infrastructures, etc.) were included in the survey as well as questions exploring nutrition and roles and decision-making processes within the household. Therefore, the survey was designed to assess the resilience of the household in areas that concern both women and men. The question exploring household decision-making provides a direct indicator of the level of intra-household inequality. The possibility to disaggregate data both by respondent and head of household sex also allows practitioners to use the data to explore potential differences in gender roles within households.

Preliminary observations from field implementation 

Indeed, by disaggregating data collected by SHARP in different implementation contexts, a number of observations could be made on gender and climate resilience. SHARP collects information on "academic resilience" of aspects of the farm system as well as their perceived adequacy and perceived importance with regards to climate resilience, compiling them in a general resilience score (see our first blog post).

In Angola, surveys were collected from 40 respondents (the data collection is ongoing). Differences in men's and women’s results mainly link to differences in their perception of household resilience. As such, access to information on market prices, together with the use of crop management practices, were the most important aspects among female farmers interviewed. Aligned with women´s concerns, male interests also focused on accessing and using more practices to manage crops but also on having more profitable systems in order to meet the farm needs. These differences could be explained by women’s preponderant role in farming while men tend to concentrate in pastoralism, leading each to give more importance to the activities in which they are most involved.

In South Sudan, data were collected to provide a baseline of resilience levels and priorities under a Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) project. Across three states, analysis focused on assessing differences in climate resilience between male- (539) and female- (83) headed households. In general, men perceived livestock management practices to be the most important aspect in their agricultural units, while women perceived access to water as the most important. The difference in perception is likely dependent on the different and gendered roles carried out by each sex within households. In terms of male- versus female-headed households’ overall resilience (see Figure 1), analysis showed little difference between the two types of households, with male-headed households being slightly less resilient on average. Improving the resilience of livestock practices and savings were overarching priorities across households.

Figure 1. Average resilience levels by question and disaggregating by sex of household head for South Sudan. Red-shaded ring represents low resilience (0-10 points); yellow-shaded ring reflects moderate resilience (11-20 points); and green-shaded ring signals high resilience.

In Uganda, data were collected in 216 households. Results show that livestock practices (including nutrition and breeding), water quality, meals* and market prices were perceived as critically important aspects for resilience improvement by both women and men. These indicators are also the ones with the lowest overall resilience scores across female and male responses, with women obtaining lower resilience scores on average. Differences between women’s and men’s overall scores were largest for water- and crop-related indicators. Once again, these were not due to differences in "academic resilience" but rather in different perceptions of adequacy and importance for given aspects. In terms of academic score, the most striking difference was that observed for household decision-making, highlighting strong intra-household imbalances in decision-making power. 

Lessons learned in understanding gender and resilience:

  • Preliminary findings can be used to make initial inferences about women’s versus men’s perceptions of climate resilience and to differentiate between female-led versus male-led household resilience priorities. Further analyses are needed to confirm preliminary trends observed.
  • As surveys refer to household level indicators, differences in men’s and women’s results mainly link to differences in their perception of household resilience. In general, results from the three country pilots show that the perceptions held by men and women differ based on their roles: women tend to give priority to water, energy, and the farming activity (or activities) for which they are in charge. Regarding female-led versus male-led households, no large differences in resilience were observed in South Sudan.
  • The question on household decision-making is a valuable indicator to assess existing levels of household inequalities. Addressing inequalities within the household and community seems to be an important priority to improve social resilience of women and households.
  • The methodology used to collect data using SHARP is adaptable to different needs and contexts but must strive to consider potential gender inequalities within households and communities. As women and men tend to play defined roles in the household, they are each best-placed to assess the resilience level of the sectors in which they are most involved. Ensuring a gender mix in respondents will therefore improve the reliability of ranking results and its usefulness for improving household resilience. 

This post wraps up our blog series on the SHARP tool and its applications, preliminary results, and what we’ve learned thus far about gender and climate resilience through the use of SHARP. If you missed our previous posts, you can check out the first post here and find the second one here. If you have any reflections you’d like to share, please feel free to use the comment sections below or to contact the SHARP team at SHARP [at] fao.org. Otherwise, for more information, please visit the SHARP page.

*The question on meals explores nutrition at the household level using the household dietary diversity score (HHDS) index developed by the FAO. Scoring is based on number of food types consumed over the previous 24 hours by family members and assessed adequacy of food intake + importance of diversity of food to respondent.