CGIAR Gender News

Rangeland women: why supporting them could save Tunisia’s degraded ecosystems

Woman in the Tunisian rangelands Photo: Zied Idoudi/ICARDA

Across the drylands, there is a widespread misconception surrounding rural women's involvement in rangelands.

Women's roles in livestock rearing, crop cultivation, and climate change adaptation, are either diminished or altogether invisible, perpetuating a loop of missed opportunities and a lack of institutional support. Tunisia is no exception.

ICARDA Gender Scientist Dina Najjar and Bipasha Baruah -who holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Women's Issues at the University of Western Ontario - debunk the myth that rangeland activities are primarily male-oriented and male performed in an upcoming paper.

Their study calls for emerging policies to reflect and integrate rangeland women's priorities and skills and facilitate their access to training and resources.

"Women's contribution to rangeland cultivation and management in Tunisia is a major policy blind spot. Their specific vulnerability to climate change is also largely overlooked," says Dina Najjar.

Rangelands are critical yet fragile ecosystems in Tunisia. They sustain pastoral systems and local economies and act as a buffer against the spread of desertification.

Estimates suggest that rangelands, which cover 5.5 million hectares of land in Tunisia, generate 1,062 million Tunisian Dinars in goods and services each year (equivalent to 1.5% of GDP and three times the value produced by forests).