23 March 2022 | 9 minutes.

Land ownership: A glass ceiling for rural women

Farmers evaluating traits of wheat varieties, Ethiopia.

Photo: Bioversity International, J. van de Gevel

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Beatrice Baccarini
MA student in International Relations with Political Economy at University of Kent and Communication Intern at REVOLVE

Beatrice Baccarini, MA student in International Relations with Political Economy at University of Kent and Communication Intern at REVOLVE

The impact of climate change amplifies gender disparities in rural areas. Women have reduced access to resources, face societal pressures, and have less land to farm. For lasting, meaningful climate action, we first need gender equality in rural land ownership to facilitate change.

In 2015, the United Nations set out a series of objectives in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that aim to improve life for all, both on an environmental and societal level. The Agenda contains 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDGs 5 and 13 on gender equality and climate action.

Gender equality and climate change are interlinked. According to the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, “Rural women are the first adopters of new agricultural techniques, first responders in crisis and entrepreneurs of green energy” and are a powerful force for driving global progress. However, the impacts of climate change, including access to productive and natural resources, amplify the gender disparities existing in rural areas.

Rural women perform nearly half of the world’s agricultural work. One in three women are employed in the agricultural sector, yet this figure rises to over 40% in developing countries. Women cultivate fields, make agricultural products, and are responsible for taking care of families at home. In many regions, they are also responsible for water collection in areas with no running water, with rural women in Sub-Saharan Africa spending 40 billion hours a year collecting water.

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