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Opportunities to empower women with enhanced access to Climate Information Services for transformative adaptation actions in Viet Nam’s agricultural sectors

Dec 6, 2019

The impacts of climate change are not gender-neutral. Women farmers rely heavily on climate-sensitive natural resources for their livelihoods. Further, female-headed households have less adaptive capacity to cope with climate change, as they often lag behind men in terms of access to information services, technologies and credit. In addition, women farmers are often more vulnerable than men because of existing social norms and inherent inequalities. For instance, at the household level, women often have less decision-making power regarding the choice of crops, technologies or commercial development.

Yet, despite these limitations and the burden of unpaid work, Vietnamese women play a substantial role in climate change adaptation due to their involvement in the agriculture, forestry, and disaster risk reduction sectors. Women’s contributions are essential in meeting adaptation targets, as they possess extensive knowledge and capacities, and play key roles within their communities. Consequently, women should not be seen as victims; rather they should be considered crucial actors of change.

Enormous disparities exist among women farmers depending on their location, ethnicity, level of education, cultural and religious practices, etc. To effectively address these differing characteristics that shape women’s vulnerabilities to climate change (inequalities) in the updated NDC policy document, more research and data are required (see indicators Page 1). The current lack of sex-disaggregated data hampers the understanding of a changing agricultural landscape, which employs more women and needs to cope with climate change and external factors (e.g. competition, migration, etc.).

Women and men exhibit differences in terms of their responses to agricultural related climate change, their access to and use of climate information services, and their vulnerabilities and capacities to adapt to a changing climate. The design of climate information services that considers the differences between men and women in terms of perception, usage and access is fundamental to the successful adoption and uptake of adaptation strategies.

By striving for gender equality in agricultural adaptation, the NAP process and the NDCs could address existing structural barriers (institutional, financial, access to information) preventing women from reaching their full potential in terms of climate change adaptation. Adopting a gender lens in climate policy will bring a myriad of co-benefits. It will contribute to women’s economic empowerment and political participation, increase agricultural productivity, and enhance community responses to disasters. Furthermore, experts have reviewed the current agricultural adaptation and DRR activities in the draft Vietnamese NDCs, which have received a high score in achieving SDG 5: Gender Equality.

This brief recommends developing inclusive Climate Information Services as a strategic intervention that can effectively reduce the gender inequality gaps in Viet Nam, among different NDC measures. This would help enhance women’s adaptive capacities and contribute to the achievement of Viet Nam’s socio-economic development plans.

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