Climate-smart agriculture paving the way for women’s empowerment in Mali and Malawi

Date: Friday, March 16, 2018

As rural communities in Africa toil with the impact of climate change, enhancing the economic empowerment of women farmers through climate-smart agriculture is becoming critical, said local actors from Mali and Malawi at a side event co-organized by UN Women on 14 March at the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62).

UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec speaks at the Climate change adaptation strategies for capacity-building and economic empowerment of women farmers CSW62 side event on 14 March. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec speaks at the Climate change adaptation strategies for capacity-building and economic empowerment of women farmers CSW62 side event on 14 March. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

“Narrowing the gap between men and women in having access to land, information and technologies in agriculture is one of the ways to make progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” said UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec, emphasizing that by empowering women farmers, we can combat poverty and food insecurity, enable them to educate their children and contribute to peace in their communities.

In most countries, agricultural policies and investments still fail to take into account the differences in resources available for men and women, their roles, workloads and the differential constraints they face.

Michèle Sabban, Honorary President of R20 and President of the Green Fund for Women, expressed support for women's empowerment and climate-smart agriculture at the Climate change adaptation strategies for capacity-building and economic empowerment of women farmers CSW62 side event on 14 March. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Michèle Sabban, Honorary President of R20 and President of the Green Fund for Women, expressed support for women's empowerment and climate-smart agriculture at the Climate change adaptation strategies for capacity-building and economic empowerment of women farmers CSW62 side event on 14 March. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

In the absence of concerted efforts to close the gender gap in the agricultural sector in the context of climate change, women farmers are at risk of being caught in a downward spiral. UN Women and partners in Mali and Malawi are working bridge this gap by facilitating women farmers’ access to information and markets, and by raising awareness about sustainable farming practices.

In Mali, where women represent more than half of agricultural workers, but still lack access to means of production, such as land and markets, UN Women’s AgriFeD programme, funded by the Governments of Denmark, Luxemburg and Sweden, is empowering rural women through a combination of skills training and access to modern technology. The programme has provided a wide range of real-time and reliable information on markets, prices, vendors as well as weather and soil quality, through a mobile application, to boost the productivity and sales of women farmers.

“We want to modernize our agriculture by using digital tools to identify crops and follow how these crops are faring,” said Arouna Modibo Touré, Minister of the Digital Economy of Mali. “Climate-smart agriculture is moving forward in Mali, and women are working hard to address climate change.”

Similarly, women farmers in Malawi have successfully piloted climate-smart agriculture strategies.

Jean Kalilani, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Malawi, emphasized the Government’s commitment to rural women and climate-smart agriculture. “You cannot have solution without women,” she said. “The Government of Malawi is committed to implementation of interventions in the agriculture sector that will improve [their] lives. In partnership with UN Women, we are geared to continue supporting women with interventions to improve climate resilience.”

“We’re participating in the life of our country by contributing to this sector,” said Traore Oumou Touré, Minister of Promotion of Women, Children and Family of Mali. “How can we move from old-fashioned strategy to modern technology? Women can do it using our natural resources.”

Through the AgriFeD programme, Mali has already seen evidence that this is possible. The programme has recently worked with shallot farmers who were losing crops because land degradation and parasites, and modernized their farming techniques using locally available biopesticides. Read more»

As demonstrated by the examples of Mali and Malawi, climate smart agriculture is the future for women farmers, and a bright, sustainable, future for women in agriculture puts everyone a step closer to achieving the SDGs.