Poverty, inequality and climate change are intrinsically linked to women, in particular, they are structurally vulnerable to these issues. According to FAO, 58 million women live in rural areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. Of this total, only 17 million are part of the economically active population and 4.5 million are agricultural producers. However, even though both rural women and men play a crucial role in the sector, the latter face fewer constraints as they are more likely to have access to productive inputs, assets and services (e.g. land, credit, and extension services). For example, in Mexico, only 22.4% of rural women are landowners.
At the same time, socio-cultural conditions make it easier for men to search for employment elsewhere, leaving rural women to struggle to feed their families. The aforementioned relates to the time poverty obstacle that rural women face, that is, the inability to engage in other productive activities due to the time spent on subsistence chores. An example of this is the firewood and water collection, that is largely done by women and girls on foot, constraining the time available to women.
Given the importance of rural women’s participation rates in the agricultural labour force, and taking into account the high sensitivity to climate change of the sector, any stresses related to it are likely to have direct impacts on their livelihoods. Therefore, the strengthening and improvement of the sector’s performance enable the engagement of the poorest and most vulnerable, being essential for poverty alleviation.
The International Renewable Resources Institute and Sistema.bio seek to empower women and to achieve gender equality through the development and implementation of gender-responsive projects. This is accomplished through the activities implemented that seek economic, social, and environmental benefits for both men and women. An example of the above is the participatory ways we use to transfer knowledge and technical capacities to rural women and men.
This process helps rural women to adopt the climate technologies (biodigesters) through a series of trainings and the dissemination of information on the use and maintenance of the biodigester and the biofertilizer. At the same time, we emphasize the strengthening of the community’s active participation in the planned activities. In our experience, this kind of project has enriched women’s human capital through education and training, making possible the development of women leadership skills.