Women and Climate Change

Women, climate change and food security

Climate change will require people to adapt their behaviour. Sounds logical, but it is amazing how quickly people can disappear from focus when the discussion moves to how much taro yields might decrease with increasing minimum night time temperatures! Men and women have different roles but equally important knowledge and with different vulnerabilities when it comes to food production. These differences but equally important knowledge needs to be taken into account when implementing adaptation and food security programmes. For instance…

In the document “Planning the use of fish for food security in Solomon Islands” (Weeratunge et al, 2011) it was found that women and men’s perception on fish quality and preference differed. Men assessed the fish preferences of women and children based on greasiness whilst the most important criterion for women assessing the preferences of men, thought that ease of access was most important.  However, both women and men agreed that the taste of the fish was the most important when selecting or catching fish.

Did you also know that..

Women in the Pacific make up a large portion of the informal sector in fisheries and agriculture (Action Aid, 2012). In Papua New Guinea 85 % of food is grown by women (Coleman, 2013) and in the Solomon Islands women produce about 80% of the nation’s food supply (FAO, 2008). Given their vital roles, women are holders of vast amounts of traditional knowledge in attaining food security.

So why is this important to me?

If you are working in the area of food security and climate change adaptation, ensuring that equal participation and contribution from MEN and WOMEN when making decisions on immediate priorities will give you your best chance of generating improvements in food security. And don’t just take it from me

Salome Ben( Vanuatu local solar fruit dryer expert) says;

"As a woman I have inherited special knowledge from my mother on how to preserve and cook with fruit. Men aren't ever taught how heat changes the taste and feel of fruit. I know how to make the solar dryer really work to get the best products, and how to avoid waste of harvested fruits and preserve them for the longest possible period of time".

So having read all of this what is the message for today?

Acknowledge and embrace the differences and equal importance of women and men in food security and in all other areas of climate change adaptation