PhD Candidate with the Faculty of Science, The University of Western Australia
An analysis of how gendered social norms affect rural farmers' capacities to adapt to climate change
Climate change has become a threat to agriculture globally, with escalating drought and flooding events devastating livelihoods. Rural farmers in lower income countries are amongst those most adversely affected. The impacts of climate change have become closely intertwined with the already complex continuation of poverty and social inequality in different contexts. Moreover, gendered barriers and limits to adaptation have emerged as a result of socio-political gender norms. Social norms and power structures can constitute disctinct vulnerabilities, and can determine if and how groups and individuals access adaptive education and resources. For example, a ‘feminisation of responsibility’ in climate change adaptation in low and lower-middle income countries has emerged, often resulting in farming women assuming disproportionate duties in the face of climatic threats to agriculture. A shift in discourses surrounding agriculture and climate change adaptation is apparent, with human geographers and scientists increasingly utilising feminist theories for understanding the gendered dynamics of adaptation. Current climate change adaptation strategies in Ghana are largely centred on extension services (agricultural education), agricultural assets, and new technologies. Less attention is being paid to the socio-political mechanisms that drive gendered aspects of inequality that can shape the adaptive capacities of farmers. This project merges ideas from Feminist Intersectionality Theory and Political Ecology theories of subjectivities for examining these mechanisms and offering insights on their relevance to climate change adaptation in Ghana’s Central Region. Through an innovative conceptual framework and the utilisation of empowering participatory methods and activities, this project will offer insightful recommendations for policy and strategy implementation that acknowledge the complex drivers of inequality, and how they can inhibit or limit smallholders’ roles in Ghana as agents of adaptation and transformational change. Opportunities and limitations for smallholders to contest the inequitable social and power structures examined by the project will also be discussed.