CGIAR Gender News

Building a better future: How gender research supports rural women during times of crisis

Rural women. Photo: F. Fiondella (IRI/CCAFS).

This year's theme for the International Day of Rural Women is "Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19". On this occasion, we have asked CGIAR centers and programs to describe how their research is supporting rural women during times of crises. This post, by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), is one in series of responses.

Gender research supports more equitable outcomes during and post-crisis, while helping to build more resilient systems

While scientists and climate activists have sounded the alarm for decades, calling attention to the impending impacts of climate change, it has proven to be exceptionally difficult to shift behavior, at every level, to a more sustainable approach. The global shock felt around COVID-19, however, may be a glimpse into our future, one where system shocks are substantial and felt globally.

The ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc on institutions, systems, communities, and individuals while, at the same time, laying bare structural inequalities, including gender disparities. 

Common gender norms mean that women are on the frontline of collecting water, fuel, fodder and provide care work, both in the home and through formal employment, where, globally, 70 percent of healthcare workers are women. Additionally, the sectors that women often rely on for income and food security are stressed by border closures, restricted transportation, and social distancing guidelines.

Women are also instrumental in the fight against shocks, including the facilitation of better COVID-19 adaptation strategies. In India, women’s self-help groups are helping to feed people, provide health information, and create face masks. Initiatives in Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo place women at the center of efforts to combat the disease. At the national level, initial research suggests that women leaders have managed the pandemic better, recording fewer infections and a lower death rate.