Gender in Agriculture Partnership

Transforming agriculture to empower women and deliver food, nutrition and income security

Outside the box: Considering diversity among women in climate vulnerability

In southern Ghana, women are connected to the land in different ways from one another. This diversity translates into a suite of vulnerabilities to climate change, and a need for fine-tuned strategies that accommodate the range of women in a community.

“Women here are really doing well; they have managed to put children through school,” one women voiced this opinion during an interview in a southern Ghanaian cocoa farming community. While she was by no means alone in extolling the strong females and enterprising young ladies in the area, I found after speaking with a broad set of women in different communities that not all felt equally empowered about their achievements and future.

Cocoa contributes at least 75% of the incomes for the smallholders in the southern humid forest zone of Ghana. This $100 billion global industry makes up 30-40% of Ghana’s agricultural exports and has played a key role in enabling better standards of living and higher education. However, as a crop grown within a narrow band of conditions, there is considerable (and growing) concern about the potential impacts of dramatic shifts in weather patterns. Unfortunately, the predicted drier, hotter, and more variable climate for West Africa only reinforces those fears.

While even more uncertain for farmers than the projected changes in climate and weather, it is possible to glean current and potential vulnerabilities. Women are often front center in these discussions.

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