Women's Vulnerability to Climate Change: Gender-skewed Implications on Agro-based Livelihoods in Rural Zvishavane, Zimbabwe

Citation:

Chidakwa, Patience, Clifford Mabhena, Blessing Mucherera, Joyline Chikuni, and Chipo Mudavanhu. 2020. "Women's Vulnerability to Climate Change: Gender-skewed Implications on Agro-based Livelihoods in Rural Zvishavane, Zimbabwe." Indian Journal of Gender Studies 27 (2): 259-81.

Authors: Patience Chidakwa, Clifford Mabhena, Blessing Mucherera, Joyline Chikuni, Chipo Mudavanhu

Abstract:

Climate change presents a considerable threat to human security, with notable gender disproportions. Women's vulnerability to climate change has implications on agro-based livelihoods, especially the rural populace. The primary purpose of this study was to assess women's vulnerability to climate change and the gender-skewed implications on agro-based livelihoods in rural Zvishavane, Zimbabwe. A qualitative approach that used purposive sampling techniques was adopted. Data was collected through 20 in-depth interviews with 11 de jure and 9 de facto small-scale female-headed farmer households. Two focus group discussions with mixed de facto and de jure small-scale female-headed farmer households were also conducted. Five key informant interviews were held with departmental heads of the Ministry of Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development; the Agriculture Technical Extension Service Department; the Livestock Production Department; the Runde Rural District Council and the Meteorological Services Department. Gendered effects were noted in terms of increased roles and responsibilities for women. Observations showed that there was an increase in distances travelled by women to fetch water owing to a depleted water table. Climate-induced migration of men due to depleted livelihoods in rural areas has also increased roles and responsibilities for women. The traditional male responsibilities assumed by women included cattle herding and ox-driven ploughing. This study concluded that adaptation strategies towards vulnerability to climate change have to be gender-sensitive and area-specific. This study also recommended that response programmes and policies meant to curb existing gendered vulnerabilities should be informed by evidence because climate-change effects are unique for different geographical areas. Moreover, adaptation activities should be mainstreamed in community processes so as to reduce the burden on women and increase sustainability opportunities.

Keywords: de facto household head, de jure household head, gender, smallholder farmers, vulnerability, climate change

Topics: Agriculture, Displacement & Migration, Climate Displacement, Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Gender Roles, Households, Livelihoods, Security, Human Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 2020

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