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Women and Youth: Disproportionate Losses in Agricultural Income Due to Climate Stress

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A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) sheds light on the unequal impact of climate stressors on rural households, particularly concerning women and youth. Here are the key findings from the report:

Gender Disparities in Income Loss

  • Women-headed Households Affected: Women-headed households in low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs), including India, experience higher agricultural income losses due to climate stressors.
  • Impact of Heat Stress and Floods: These households incur losses 8 per cent higher due to heat stress and 3 per cent higher due to floods compared to men-headed households.
  • Economic Implications: The income loss translates to a per capita reduction of $83 due to heat stress and $35 due to floods, totaling $37 billion and $16 billion, respectively, across all LMICs.
  • Future Projections: With a mere 1°C increase in average temperatures, women face a staggering 34 per cent greater loss in total incomes compared to men, widening existing gaps in agricultural productivity and wages.
Source: FAO’s The Unjust Climate report

Youth Vulnerability to Climate Stress

  • Age-related Vulnerabilities: Young households (under 35) are more likely to lose agricultural income due to extreme weather events compared to older households.
  • Off-farm Opportunities: Despite facing income losses, young households have an easier time finding off-farm job opportunities during extreme weather conditions, mitigating their losses and seeing an increase in total incomes by 3-6 per cent.
Source: ‘The Unjust Climate’ report

Addressing Inequalities and Vulnerabilities

  • Targeted Interventions: To empower various rural populations to engage in climate-adaptive measures, targeted interventions are necessary.
  • Policy Recommendations: Investing in policies and programs that address the multidimensional climate vulnerabilities of rural people, including women and youth, is crucial.
  • Linking Social Protection and Advisory Services: Linking social protection programs to advisory services can encourage adaptation and compensate farmers for losses, promoting resilience in the face of climate change.

The FAO report underscores the urgent need for inclusive and resilient climate actions, urging policymakers to prioritize gender equality, women’s empowerment, and the specific vulnerabilities of rural populations in their climate adaptation strategies.

Source: Down to Earth

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