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Three things scientists don’t know about women farmers and climate change but really should

Just how well agriculture and food systems can cope with rising temperatures, floods and other climate shocks and stresses will be determined first and foremost by how much both women and men farmers can adapt to climate change.

Farmers need to be supported to continue building resilient food systems that can nourish and sustain lives despite rising challenges, which have been compounded by setbacks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

However, researchers do not currently know if existing solutions to climate change really do work for women or if they have only been designed primarily with men and their context in mind.

For instance, only one in 10 out of more than 100,000 research papers reviewed in 2020 on ending hunger considered gender differences in outcomes, despite the much greater vulnerability to climate change and food insecurity faced by women in developing countries.

If today’s climate change responses, such as climate-smart agriculture, do not work for half the population, then climate adaptation and resilience is ultimately out of reach for everyone.

As climate champions gather at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, ensuring that climate solutions work for both women and men farmers should be high on the agenda if we are to avoid leaving half the population behind.

In some cases, achieving gender equality in our response to climate change will imply new investments in research to allow scientists to investigate precisely whether today’s agricultural innovations promise climate justice for women — and if not, how to close these gender gaps.