By Nasir Aziz
The old thinking about women would not work anymore. This is the time for a paradigm shift in our behaviours and attitudes against resource poor women farmers. The threats of climate change are no longer hidden and women farmers are the most affected segment of society.
It is loud and clear that the Climate Change has a women face. If we are still not ready to bring resource poor women at the fore front then we must be ready to face failures against climate change.
Smallholder women farmers play an important role in food production in Pakistan as 72.7% women are engaged in agriculture and related activities. I will come to Pakistan in later blogs but here I want to share that the situation against women farmers is common in different parts of Asia.
The nexus among food security, climate change and women reminds me of my field visit to a coastal zone in Vietnam during the Sixth International Conference on Community-based Adaptation, held in Hanoi in 2012.
I still appreciate the diversification of livelihoods in various parts of Ninh Binh province in Vietnam but I hardly observed any prioritizing of women who made the rice fields lush green, collected clam (harvesting oysters, squids etc) from the mud – sold by men at heavy price, prepared beds for vegetables while compromising their health and bearing the brunt of the impact of climate change.
Even the men farmers hardly knew about the climate change concept, let alone resource poor women. The women in the field shared that they had never heard the word: climate change. They only felt that their lives were changing. They shared that incidences of diseases in poultry and animals were increasing manifold and the expenses were increasing on livestock care.
I felt during the visit if men were like a house and the women were like a powerful roof that faces all the brutalities of extreme weather to save the house and its inmates.
This cannot continue forever. This is time to change our thinking. Empowering women is the right way to fight with the ever increasing climate change threats. Avenues must be created at every level for women to take a lead in fighting for their causes and for claiming their rights. Involving women in relevant policies and budgetary allocations are the key responsibilities of the governments.
Otherwise, fight against climate change is hard to win. All the developmental efforts through Sustainable Development Goals, reducing poverty and hunger would not yield the desirable results.
Mr Nasir Aziz is an expert on livelihoods, food and sustainable agriculture with over 15 years of experience with national and international development organizations.
Title Picture: Woman Farmer in Vietnam. Picture Credit to Nasir Aziz