”Why is gender even an issue for agriculture?”

Although, women make up nearly 50% agricultural workforce, their contribution to society and cc adaption is systematically overlooked and their voices under-represented, (FAO, 2016). Women are deemed most vulnerable of these marginalized groups due to their roles in diverse livelihood activities, their dependence on natural resources for these activities and the structural inequity in the access to and control of such resources, (Rosimo, Gonsalves, Gammelgaard, Vidallo, & Oro, 2018), (FAO, 2011), (Dankelman, 2010).

Existing literature on gender and climate change show that women and men perceive, experience and responds differently to climate change, (Villavicencio et al., 2018). Despite women’s ’’vulnerably’’, in the face of climate impacts, woman can be proactive agents of climate change adaption especially when coping with variability, long-term changes in climate and ensuring food security (FAO, 2011). FAO estimate that equal access to productive resources between male and female farmers could increase agri output in developing countries by 2.5%- 4%. However, women farmers need to break gender barriers in place by society and increase their empowerment to allow for this increased productivity. As specified by Myanmar’s 2016 NAPA, once they obtain equal access and rights, women farmers on the pathway to improved livelihoods, (FAO,2016).

CSA involves gender equality which the World Bank calls ‘’ smart economics’’ – through targeted investments and institutional reforms, CSA can help remove barriers which prohibits women from playing a full role as workers, entrepreneurs and consumers within mainstream economic life. Barriers women face in Myanmar in relation to agriculture include a range of social and cultural constraints. This type of ‘’discrimination is argued to have the dual effect of oppressing women while simultaneously depriving the economy of valuable human capital and resources, stifling aggregate growth, (Taylor, 2018). Thus, engagement via CSA aims to facilitate a simultaneous improvement of women’s welfare, gender equality and economic efficiency on local and global level. Reducing these barriers to resources, training, markets, decision making opportunities will help create equilibrize gender balance and make men and women equal partners in cc adaption and mitigation, (Villavicencio et al., 2018).

Equity, empowerment and gender relations: A literature review of special relevance for climate-smart agriculture programming. Source:https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/98467.

As specified by Myanmar’s 2016 NAPA report, the integration of women in livelihood activities in particular farming, through the access of resources, i.e. tillage machinery, improved seed varieties, training, financial loans etc. will place them on the pathway to improved livelihood standards, (FAO, 2016).

The addition of gender to agri policy is a great step towards parity in agriculture sector where like in Myanmar, female take up large percent of the work force, yet their work and valuable contribution goes unnoticed. The recognition of the benefits gained by including gender equality and empowerment in a project is evidently growing as ‘gender and empowerment’ inclusion now regularly features as central component of international and government strategies. This further demonstrates how instrumental it is for success of development outcomes, as well ‘’a moral imperative and worthy in its own sake’’, (Alkire et al., 2013).

However, with little institutional support to back up its implementation of gender inclusive projects, is gender and empowerment are unfortunately becoming a popular buzz word due to lack of local regional national infrastructure to allow these policies to filter down. To ensure that ‘gender washing does not become affiliated with the mainstreaming gender in government policy – the inclusion of gender dimension is also vital to ensure the complexities of socioeconomic and social norms [particularly the one which act as barriers to female farmers] are understood and addressed in the design of any participatory agri project.

Climate change will further widen this gender gap and likely to worsen the situation for women farmers and their dependents, (Paris, 2019), as well as the food security of the country. Due to women’s dependence on natural resource they are deemed the most vulnerable to cc. another reason to ensure women’s inclusion in agri projects.

In Myanmar women traditionally have the role of buying and preparing food for their households. In country’s with similar traditional roles for women it is well documented that women, depending on household income and their access to food, largely determine the health of their household and therefore, also playing a key role in health of society. As stated in previous blog FAO estimate that equal access to productive resources between male and female farmers could increase agriculture output in developing countries by 2.5%- 4%. This creates strong reason to suggest that in Myanmar, if women’s access to reserves in agriculture was improved, could potentially improve food security and economic health of households while providing many long-term benefits for their families such as increased household income, health, education, employment, cc resilience.

To conclude, the lack of gender equality in agriculture is stifling the potential growth of the country’s economic growth and national food security. The inclusion of gender in government policies in international and government strategies may reduce the gender gap in agri, reduce women’s vulnerability to cc, increase food security, but to enable these benefits there must be support at local, regional and national level.


Alkire, S., Meinzen-Dick, R., Peterman, A., Quisumbing, A., Seymour, G., & Vaz, A. (2013). The women’s empowerment in agriculture index. World development, 52, 71-91.

Rosimo, M., Gonsalves, J., Gammelgaard, J., Vidallo, R., & Oro, E. (2018). Addressing gender-based impacts of climate change: A case study of Guinayangan, Philippines.

Dankelman, I. (2010). Gender and climate change: An introduction: Routledge.

FAO. (2011). Women in Agrculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Delvelopment. The State of Food and Agriculture 2 0 1 0 – 1 1, 39-45. Retrieved from www.fao.org/3/i2050e/i2050e04.pdf

FAO. (2016). MYANMAR: National Action Plan for Agriculture (NAPA).

Paris, T. R., and M.F. Rola-Rubzen (Eds.). (2019). Gender Dimension of Climate Change Research in Agriculture

Villavicencio, F., Rosimo, M., Vidallo, R., Oro, E., & Gonsalves, J. (2018). Equity, empowerment and gender relations: A literature review of special relevance for climate-smart agriculture programming.

What is Empowerment?

Empowerment is a difficult concept to define. It encompasses an individual’s capability set and depends on the context where it is applied e.g. empowerment of an individual at household or community level. Empowerment is the process of enhancing/expanding the assets/capabilities of people/groups/communities to participate, influence, negotiate and hold accountable institutions that affect their lives, in an equitable manner, (Bennet, 2002), (Narayan,2002). Empowerment involves the questioning of agency and power relations within household/society.

For Kishor (2008), empowerment is defined as the process of increasing women’s control over their own lives, bodies and environment. Women must be active agents in the pursuit of empowerment rather than passive receipts of change. Consequently, a bottom up process as advised by Jo Rowlands, i.e. CSA, is essential to allow Female engagement from the start of empowerment enabling process as it allows women participate fully and to take ownership of it, (Villavicencio et al., 2018). In accordance with the SDG’s, Empowerment must have equal effects on all groups/community members, leaving no one behind, allowing for integration of Myanmar’s diverse range of 135 ethnic groups. Empowerment is for all levels of society but must endeavour to start empowerment enabling process with the group who is deemed furthest behind.

As women are the most vulnerable farmers in rural areas this report looks at the existing empowerment abilities and barriers of all women in each household from each agro-ecological zone. Barriers that women farmers face in Myanmar, which prevent gender empowerment include:

  • Lack of gender equal constitutional legislation, e.g. land right and tenure(GEN, 2016), (WOMEN, 2016), (Network, 2015).
  • Lack of support from Institutions, (Murray, 2015),(GEN, 2016),(WOMEN, 2016),(Network, 2015).
  • Traditional stereotypies and social norms preventing realization of women rights and preventing participation in political and public life, (Colverson et al., 2020), (Murray, 2015), (GEN, 2016), (Network, 2015).
  • Violence against women,(Paris, 2019),(GEN, 2016),(WOMEN, 2016),(Network, 2015).
  • Access to Justice – fair pathways to get access to entitled  inheritance, (Paris, 2019).
  • Individual livelihoods and aspirations – that recourses available to them which could allow women to increase households’ income, bargaining power and decision making power in the household, were not relevant to their own ambitions they wishes to pursue, (Colgan et al., 2019).
  • Lack of agency due to household dynamics, (Colgan et al., 2019),(Paris, 2019),(Network, 2015).
  • Lack of access to resources, e.g. land rights, agricultural training, equipment and seeds, loans /credit, (Colgan et al., 2019), (Paris, 2019),(FAO, 2016),(Network, 2015).

While this study of gender dimensions in Myanmar’s CSVs focuses on the complex interaction between social norms, decision making power and existing perception of women’s role  and the influence these factors have on gender empowerment of residents of each CSV, the research will contribute to an understanding of women’s empowerment, resource they can or cannot access and considerations for future CSA empowerment initiatives.

With the use of Community Based Approach (CBA) helps to ensure the inclusion of women in the design stage of CSA to the end results stage of CSA. Which is key to building gender empowerment, as seen in previous studies i.e. IIRR’s study of Guinayangan CSV in the Philippines, WorldFish study in rural Bangladesh, (Colgan et al., 2019).  Through the increased engagement of women in such projects, potentially help to dissolve the traditional gender roles that reinforce the notion that female are not suited to particular livelihood activities, (Colverson et al., 2020), as is the case in Myanmar were women do not fit into the stereotype of farmers. Therefore, the implementation of CSA could help break barriers female farmers face in Myanmar. As found by TMG research 2020, ‘’supporting farmers by fostering women’s economic autonomy is critical to reduce poverty level of rural communities’’. Reducing the  gender gaps in an agriculture dependent country such as Myanmar could provide example worldwide or at least in other global south countries, as women are central to agriculture in developing countries, (Huyer, Campbell, Hill, & Vermeulen, 2016).

Through improved nutrient security via CSA (as well as increased income and bargaining position of women can benefit family health and nutritional outcomes,(Duflo, 2003) (Colverson et al., 2020)). Research showed that women empowerment through livestock production (just one agriculture practice) – creates Links between women’s empowerment and food security, and a stronger link between women’s empowerment and nutrition security (Colverson et al., 2020), (Galiè et al., 2019). Same study also found distinct gender roles in nutrition and food security: the latter associated to men and the former associated to women (Galiè et al., 2019). This further implies the potential to increased food security by increased female engagement in CBA and CSA.

With the facilitation and support of empowerment/CSA both women and men must be able to take control of their own unique farming situation and act to fulfil their livelihood potential. Due to socialization ‘women may feel less empowered to act, so men must also be allies in supporting women’s empowerment, (Murray, 2015). There the use of CBA is very good way of engaging men and women in empowerment enabling activities (while the focus is on climate change and food security). This mixed gender engagement could also prevent potential backlash female farmers may face when challenging some traditional barriers and social norms i.e. working outside the home.

Gender empowerment, identified as one of the key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, is given major emphasis globally. In recent years the United Nations has promoted the links between the gender equality, empowerment and climate change. For example, the Lima Work Programme on Gender adopted at COP20 in 2014, promoted gender balance and achieving gender-responsive climate policy. While at COP21 in Paris set the standard of adding gender component in policies. However due to challenges female farmers face the underutilisation of female potential and innovation is still widespread in agriculture. As climate change impacts extend from HH to ecosystems affecting individuals/communities in different ways – much the same as empowerment. Building a climate change resilience ultimately depends on creating localized gender empowerment- enabling environment that supports all participants.

Due to women’s proactive approach to climate change and the high female employment rate in the agri sector, compared to other sectors, building empowerment through agriculture it is a very logical way of targeting gender equality while building food security. But a lot of work still required to create equal space and resources for women and men to participate in climate change decision making and action at all levels. Particular in Myanmar which ranked 148 of out 188 countries in human development largely due to its failure to meet gender equalities standards, (UNDP, 2018).




Gender and international climate policy: An analysis of progress in gender equality at COP21, (Huyer, S., 2016) https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/71106

Colgan, J., McDougall, C., Murray, U., Spillane, C., McKeown, P., & Hossain, M. (2019). Can climate-smart aquaculture enable women’s empowerment in rural Bangladesh?

FAO. (2016). MYANMAR: National Action Plan for Agriculture (NAPA).

GEN. (2016). Report on Obstacles to Gender Equality in Myanmar. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/sally/Dropbox/McCarrick,%20Sally%20IIRR/PDFs%20to%20read/Obstacles%20to%20gender%20equality%20in%20Myanmar%20FullReport.pdf

Murray, U. (2015). TOPIC GUIDE: Women’s Empowerment in a changing Agricultural and Rural Context. . Retrieved from file:///D:/Thesis/Additional%20reading/Una’s%20Recommendations/Final_EoD_Topic_Guide_Women_Empowerment_Changing_Context.pdf

Network, G. E. (2015). Raising the curtain: Cultural norms, social practices and gender equality in Myanmar. Gender Equality Network Yangon.[online] Available from: http://www. genmyanmar. org/publications/GEN% 20Raising% 20the% 20Curtain% 20Full% 20E ng. pdf [Accessed: 18/9-16].

Paris, T. R., and M.F. Rola-Rubzen (Eds.). (2019). Gender Dimension of Climate Change Research in Agriculture

Case Studies in Southeast Asia. Retrieved from https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/100189/SEARCA_Gender_Dimension_of_Climate_Change_Research_in_Agriculture_Case_Studies_in_Southeast_Asia.pdf

Thein, P. T. (2015). Gender equality and cultural norms in Myanmar. Paper presented at the INT’L CONFERENCE ON BURMA/MYANMAR STUDIES (Jul. 2015).

Tsiboe, F., Zereyesus, Y. A., Popp, J. S., & Osei, E. (2018). The effect of women’s empowerment in agriculture on household nutrition and food poverty in Northern Ghana. Social Indicators Research, 138(1), 89-108.

WOMEN, U. (2016). Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in Myanmar: A Situation Analysis.

Why Myanmar? Why not focus in Ireland? – Climate change can induce inequalities.

Scenario models of predicted Climate Change impacts on Global economic, have identified  key likelihoods. They predict that climate change will reduce global GDP and that negative economic impacts are generally expected to be worse at higher temperature thresholds of 3˚C. These higher temperature are also predicted to first effect the global south countries such as South America, Africa and Asia. An analysis of the Human Development Index by the UNDP over the last 40 years further validates that ttemperature-related shocks hit poorer countries harder than richer countries, (Ghislandi, Sanderson, & Scherbov, 2019).

In these global south countries, the poor and vulnerable populations are already disproportionately burdened with inequalities such as limited access to healthcare, education, food, housing. Which cc has already shown to increase these inequalities For example in the highlands of Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria vectorial capacity has increased by 27.6% since the 1950 baseline due to increase in temperature and the creation of  new favorable breeding conditions for vectors in areas unfamiliar with treatments. Rise in temperature has also resulted in reduce food and nutrition security which could suppress the immune system ability to fight such diseases. Climate change is predicted to increase the number of other communicable disease such as dengue, cholera further reducing the labor force and education attendance while adding economic pressure on the health systems and households and thus increasing the burden of existing health inequalities, (Ghislandi et al., 2019).  

As well as malnutrition impinging recovery from diseases / making hosts more susceptible to disease, it also creates a major problem for human development in relation to Education. Malnutrition due to rising temperatures and fall in crop yields can greatly impact a child’s learning potential in school and the household’s ability to send children to school. Livelihoods shocks i.e. failed crops [household income] due to flooding/drought. Even were school is free, the pressure of poverty on the household can direct children into income generating activities or as is the common case in Myanmar child marriage rather than education, in order to maintain houses’ income as a coping strategy. (Ghislandi et al., 2019), (Mawi, 2015), (GEN, 2016). More Girls in Myanmar are finally getting the opportunity to see the inside of classrooms. The improved income and nutrition that CSA and Sustainable agri in Myanmar aim to provide could help ensure they complete their education and at the same time taking steps to break empowerment barriers that women face.

From the global south countries, Asia is expected to add to the global population by 46% by 2030. When comparing Southeast Asian economies Myanmar has the lowest GDP of south east Asian countries, at US$1,298 per capita per annum [annual growth expectation of  6.4% expected to fall  to 0.5% – due to Covid just escaping recession].


As in 2008 when the delta region was devastated by cyclone Nargis 2008, international aid would be required to cope with short and long-term impacts of additional extreme weather events that cc will inevitably provide. Farmers in this survey remarked on the noticeable change in climatic patterns i.e. increase of rain, prolonged monsoons and later start to monsoon season, flooding, drought which they can attribute to reduced yield, increase of pest and disease among crop and livestock, loss of crops and livestock and in some households. Some female participants also noted that they have reduced their food consumption to ensure that other household members eat. This food insecurity – will lead to increased malnutrition.

With majority of rural farmers in Myanmar using traditional farming methods they have been recognized by FAO for achieving the stringent Millennium Development target of halving the number of hungry people by 2015 deadline. But malnutrition is still a major problem. Estimated that 38% of population live near or below the poverty line. Most recent food insecurity findings state that 734,203 citizens of Myanmar do not have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food and are in need of food assistance. While 29% of children under 5years are suffering from stunting, (FAO,2020). Given the loss of yield identified by farmers in  this study, increased climate change will only increase food insecurity and related health problems and human development inequalities as outlined by UNDP Human Development report, (Ghislandi et al., 2019). The adaption of agriculture methods with greater inclusion of women (who comprise 70% of the agri work force) and increasing the access to natural recourse could potentially continue to reduce food insecurity. As the largest declines of crop yields will occur where food insecurity and poverty  is already a threat, (Ghislandi et al., 2019). It is critical that the agriculture sector is adapted to enable Myanmar to sustainable provide food security for its rapidly growing population and prevent relying international aid and further inequalities in human development.

The agroclimatic water stress map shows that in arid and semi-arid areas, climate change will place additional burdens on already overstretched water resources, (Batchelor, C., et al., 2018). It emphasis that the supply of water needs to be prioritized in these areas including Asia. Many areas within the country that experience high population growth rates and low resilience to climate growth will also face addition water stress and scarcity, (PAI, 2019). Whether it be rain-irrigated agriculture or irrigated agriculture the global water stress hotspots need to be prioritized. Source: https://pai.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/mapping_climate_change.pdf

In comparison, Ireland which is 3rd on the human development index and experiences very good gender equality and food security standards. As mentioned earlier, recent temperature modeling shows that regional heat extremes will generally be experienced in poorer countries (close to equator) before being experienced in richer countries located at mid-latitude regions. Suggesting that climate change-related inequality may not have major effect on Irish citizens until global temperatures increase by about 3˚C.  Whereas climate change-related inequality will add to existing human development issues at 1.5˚C of global warning.

Thus, to reiterate point made in previous blog, by working to improve food insecurity and gender empowerment and prevent adding to existing burdens and inequalities in Myanmar, is aligned with many of the Millennium Development Goals and UN main priority to ”reach the furthest behind first”. But also on moral grounds to help others in greater need than yourself. Also by focusing on  climate change  mitigation and adaption projects in global south countries now who are already facing burdens i.e. health, food security education etc. and who will face greater climate change impacts sooner than global north countries – will alleviate  pressure on global north countries to help these countries when they themselves will be in  need of cc adaption. Early adaption will also reduce economic damage associates with climate change. Research shows that as the number of climate change events have increased between the 1960-2015, so has the global financial expenses that climate change is creating. Image: modeling of climate change risk and associated costs as concluded that deferring climate change mitigation action by five years could cost $24 trillion. Deferring by 10years could cost $100trillion, (UNDP, 2018). The majority of global south countries would have to look to developed countries for increased financial aid to cover their share of the rehabilitation costs – however would these global north countries be in the same financial position as they are now to help?  

It must be also pointed out that the beauty of CSA lies within its versatility and ability to suit specific site locations. whether it is used in neighboring villages in Myanmar with different topography and crops or used in various countries. Therefore, CSA options can be used in Ireland but of course adapted to suit the site, farmers’ needs and social-economic factors. And fortunately for Ireland we are in a better position to access resource etc. required for climate change adaption, but lack political will and foresight like most countries. Perhaps there is a greater plan in store as the current burdens of Covid – an indirect result of climate change – and existing knowledge of additional burdens i.e.  deferred costs has of yet not caused governments to refocus their priorities.


FAO,2020, Myanmar at a glance, http://www.fao.org/myanmar/fao-in-myanmar/myanmar/en/

GEN. (2016). Report on Obstacles to Gender Equality in Myanmar. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/sally/Dropbox/McCarrick,%20Sally%20IIRR/PDFs%20to%20read/Obstacles%20to%20gender%20equality%20in%20Myanmar%20FullReport.pdf

Ghislandi, S., Sanderson, W. C., & Scherbov, S. (2019). A simple measure of human development: The Human Life Indicator. Population and development review, 45(1), 219.

Mawi, F. B. N. (2015). The Bride Price Negotiation Among Chin Women In Myanmar. https://www.burmalibrary.org/docs21/Society%20and%20Culture/FloraxBawixNeixMawi-2015-The_Bride_Price_negotiation_Among_Chin_Women_In_Myanmar-en.pdf

WFP. (2020). What the World Food Programme is doing in Myanmar. Retrieved from https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000118424/download/?_ga=2.217319568.746317726.1599462417-1919261594.1592912476.   https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000118424/download/?_ga=2.217319568.746317726.1599462417-1919261594.1592912476

What is CSA?

Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is a framework that provides a range of options, encompassing sustainable agriculture systems and ensures food security in a changing climate, (FAO, 2019). FAO has identified Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies, practices and services as providing several adaptation options that can sustainably increase agriculture productivity and income, enhance resilience to climatic stresses, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, services (FAO, 2010).

While CSA focus is on climate change and food security, it also considers synergies and trade-offs within socio-economic context of allocation and between productivity, adaption and mitigation as well as seizing new funding opportunities for investments. The use of CSA practices also implements SDG’s within safe planetary boundaries.

Example of CSA: CSA practice of homestead pond intervention – project carried out by World Fish in rural Bangladesh. Provides example of how csa can in crease income food security cc resislienct foosd system while also enabling the empowerment of women.

Link to report: https://www.worldfishcenter.org/content/can-climate-smart-aquaculture-enable-womens-empowerment-rural-bangladesh

Past IIRR project in the Philippines has exhibited how CSA can address many important issues such as, economic empowerment of farm households esp. women, food security- providing safe and healthy food supply, increase gender balance while adapting to  cc and helping CSV develop and maintain low carbon foot print approaches. Key to this study was the Community Based Approach – which allowed the participation of every village member. Thus  through conducting participatory vulnerability analysis (PVA), it enabled researchers to understanding  the vulnerabilities of each village, identifies the needs of each villager and risks to their environment  while also gaining an insight into site specific factors i.e. socio-economic, religion, etc. which influence these vulnerabilities. This through analysis lead to the development of approaches and technologies that successfully address gender issues and improved gender empowerment, (Rosimo. M., 2018).

Links to IIRR Report: https://ccafs.cgiar.org/publications/equity-empowerment-and-gender-relations-literature-review-special-relevance-climate#.X2H7cD-SnD4


There is robust evidence to show that disasters and shocks of Climate Change are more acutely felt at local levels. These localised impacts can then cascade to have national and international consequences, (Cutter et al., 2012). Given that 70% of Myanmar’s population live in rural areas – most vulnerable to cc impacts due to dependence on natural resources for their livelihoods. This provides reason to use localized approaches to build resilience against climate change as well as other risk associated to climate change that we may face, like Covid-19. The CSVs when established will be used as platforms for neighboring villages as example of CSA field trials and from these can learn how best to adapt CSA options to suit their needs and specific requirement of their location.

As we know Impacts of climate change manifest differently across different sites. Therefore, IIRR project worked with 4 agro-ecologies across Myanmar to address the country’s diverse topography and specific sites conditions aa well as the country’s Myanmar’s 135 ethnic groups. ethnic groups and social norms that also influence the agri practices carried out across Myanmar. The villages identified by rapid scoping study  are referred to as climate smart villages (CSVs) and represent 4 major agro-ecological regions of Myanmar namely; the central dry zone (Htee Pu village, Nyaung U township), mountain uplands (Sakta village, Hakha township), upland-plateau (Taung Kha Mauk village, Nyaung Shwe township) and delta (Ma Sein village, Bogale). These villages also represent areas of the country experiencing the lowest levels of poverty.

Due to CSA’s achievement in long-term improvements in income, food security, resilient food systems and gender empowerment, CSA has been identified as a long-term strategy to promote climate change adaption in Myanmar’s agriculture sector by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation and CCAFS. At the 24th ASEAN summit in 2014, the country committed to apply CSA to its regional food security and environmental protection plan therefore helping to building climate change resilience at local to national level.


Colgan, J., McDougall, C., Murray, U., Spillane, C., McKeown, P., & Hossain, M. (2019). Can climate-smart aquaculture enable women’s empowerment in rural Bangladesh?

Cutter, S., Osman-Elasha, B., Campbell, J., Cheong, S., McCormick, S., Pulwarty, R., . . . Mutabazi, K. (2012). Managing the risks from climate extremes at the local level.

FAO. (2016). MYANMAR: National Action Plan for Agriculture (NAPA).

FAO. (2019). Good Practices for Integrating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Climate-Smart Agriculture Programmes. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/ca3883en/ca3883en.pdf

Rosimo, M., Gonsalves, J., Gammelgaard, J., Vidallo, R., & Oro, E. (2018). Addressing gender-based impacts of climate change: A case study of Guinayangan, Philippines.

”Why Gender? And Why Myanmar? ”

”Why Gender?  And Why Myanmar?” These are the most frequently asked questions I have encountered when people enquire what I have been up to for the last year. Also followed by ”What have these got to do with Agriculture?’’. Agriculture can be used as the pathway to tackle Myanmar’s problems related to gender inequalities, food insecurities and climate change. In fact, the three are related and better integration of three areas could help provide solutions to their related problems.

As previously mentioned in the introduction 70% of Myanmar’s agriculture workforce are female, (FAO, 2016). It is unclear as what they get paid per agriculture activity as women’s work is not valued by society therefore documentation of women pay is not deemed important. The lack of value for women labor contribution is also highlighted by the 25% gender gap in daily wages, between men and women working the same jobs. This strengthens the traditional belief and social norms expected of women,  – as care givers whose place is in the home –  and further discounts women’s values and potential, making it harder for women to break these restrictive barriers, (Network, 2015), (Thein, 2015), (GEN, 2016),(WOMEN, 2016),(FAO, 2016).

Myanmar, home to almost 54.5million people, is an agricultural country with 69% of the population relying directly or indirectly on agricultural production for their livelihoods, (FAO, 2016). The majority of these are small-hold farmers dependent on rain-fed agriculture and the additional natural resources the country provides. Therefore, Myanmar’s food security, nutrition and livelihoods are predicted to face increased direct and indirect climate change impacts as will be the case for the entire Southeast Asia, (IPCC, 2014). As well as women representing a large part of the agri sector they also play a vital role in food security and nutrition in the agri sector, often carry out most tasks related to crop cultivation from planting and weeding to harvesting and marketing, while also having the main responsibility for domestic and care work.

Female farmers harvesting crops.
Source: The Myanmar Times.

Myanmar is currently ranked 148 of 189 countries, in the human development Index,  due to their low gender inequality standards, (UNDP, 2018). As outlined Gender Equality Network report,  women in Myanmar face many obstacles in pursuit to gender equality, such as different societal roles, unequal access and control of resources, lack of female participation in decision making process and thus have created gender gaps between farmers in rural communities, (GEN, 2016), (Network, 2015), (FAO, 2016), (Paris, 2019). These obstacle to gender empowerment increases women vulnerability to adapt to cc and maintain food and nutrient security at times of crises. i.e. women have limited access to land rights therefore without control or ownership of land are unable to apply for loan to buy new drought resilient seed variety.

Because decisions on climate change adaptation aiming to increase food security, depend on opportunities governed by the varied and complex interplay of social relations, institutions, organizations, and policies, it is critical that we continue to examine our understanding of inequality in agriculture (Deering, 2014; Pérez et al., 2014). Hence the use of gender lens by inclusion of this gender dimension study as part of IIRR food security project in Myanmar. While also keeping the focus of this gender study in line with various intertwined commitments and policies Myanmar has made to reduce the disparity between genders in all sectors and encourage the participation of women within community initiatives, i.e. The National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women (2013-2022) (NAPA), Beijing Platform for Action and The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

Climate change has been recognised as the biggest threat to food security and adequate nutrition in the twenty-first century (Seager et al. 2007). Agriculture has major responsibility for the current GHG emissions emitted during this anthropogenic era. Indeed the use of unsustainable farming practices such as over application of fertilizer, monocropping, deforestation for land use change, all in order to make food production more economically efficient and meet growing global food demands has resulted in environmental damage such as desertification, soil erosion, low soil fertility, water pollution.  Agriculture is the dominant sector of Myanmar’s economy and contribute approx. 37.8% of GDP, (FAO, 2020). This includes agricultural process of wood, wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; cement, construction materials; fertiliser; petroleum and natural gas; garments, jade and gems and well as food production for the global market. All of which involve either the depletion of natural resources or the process itself is damaging to surrounding environment.

Example of enviornmental damaging agriculture practise in Myanmar. Global rice production is responsible for at least 10% of total global agricultural GHG emissions. [The global rice production emits between 500-800 million tons of CO₂ equivalent per year]. Myanmar was the eighth largest exporter of rice in 2019 and the government of Myanmar has set ambitious targets to increase rice exports by 4million tons by 2019/2020. By meeting this target via traditional growing methods, will also potentially increase methane emissions (which is second to importance to CO2 as a greenhouse gas. The traditional flood system used for Rice production is responsible for at least 10% of anthropogenic ghg emissions in the agricultural sector globally at least 1% of global GHG emissions, (Searchinger, et al, 2015), (Yan, et al, 2009).

Global antropogenic greenhouse gas emissions breakdown.
Source: World Resources Institute.

However using sustainable agri methods for rice i.e. drought/salinity tolerant rice varieties, improved irrigation/water storage, altering planting times, alternate wetting and drying, reducing slash-and-burn land preparation method etc. could reduce water consumption, prevent rise of CO2 levels, while increase yield and resilience of crop to climate change, (Wassmann et al., 2009), while continuing to support small farmers and provide a staple food crop to the world population. Myanmar’s drop in rice exports [just one area of agri production]  since 2010 – 2018 [as shown in image:] is largely due to it vulnerability to weather variabilities caused by climate change and Myanmar location which is prone to extreme weather events, droughts, floods, cyclones, (Wassmann et al., 2009). This further illustrates that rice production need to change not only to reduce GHG emissions but to help maintain country’s GDP and continue meeting food demand of globale growing population.

Graph displaying sharp drop in rice production between 2010 -2018. Source: http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QC/visualize.

The overall aim of IIRR’s project is to understand existing gender dimensions which impact on food security in rural agricultural areas of Myanmar. The hope is to gain a greater understanding of all the intricacies involved in current food system with the long-term aim to improve food security by identifying sustainable, inclusive and efficient food systems [CSA options]. The inclusion of csa in a project meets gov framework but the added inclusion of gender supports the project long term success, as it allows adaption and full participation of CSA therefore it enables all farmers to take ownership of the CSA they chose to implement, (Villavicencio, Rosimo, Vidallo, Oro, & Gonsalves, 2018). By using CSA in rural parts of Myanmar enables its benefits reach the most vulnerable to CC without adding further pressure on planetary boundaries.

Planetary Boundaries.

Source: https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries.html

The project meet many criteria outlined by UN to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in Myanmar agriculture seems like the logical pathway to tackle gender inequalities, food insecurity and climate change. By using sustainable agriculture techniques i.e. (Climate Smart Approaches -CSA) in a participatory fashion i.e. (CBA) agri becomes the nexus between these three complex areas.

Rice stalks stacked after threshing, used as animal fodder during the dry period. Climate change is expected to change monsoonal patterns and increase the risk of acute droughts. Source:https://medium.com/@UNDPasiapac/stepping-up-the-story-of-one-myanmar-woman-farmer-leading-the-way-e714dd1eedce#:~:text=In%20Myanmar%20a%20large%20proportion,for%20domestic%20and%20care%20work.


FAO. (2016). MYANMAR: National Action Plan for Agriculture (NAPA).

FAO. (2020). FAO in the 2020 humanitarian appeals | Myanmar. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/ca7805en/CA7805EN.pdf

Deering, K. (2014). Stepping up to the challenge-Six issues facing global climate change and food security. Retrieved from https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bitstream/handle/10568/51553/Six%20issues%20facing%20global%20climate%20change%20and%20food%20security.pdf?sequence=15&isAllowed=y

GEN. (2016). Report on Obstacles to Gender Equality in Myanmar. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/sally/Dropbox/McCarrick,%20Sally%20IIRR/PDFs%20to%20read/Obstacles%20to%20gender%20equality%20in%20Myanmar%20FullReport.pdf

 Network, G. E. (2015). Raising the curtain: Cultural norms, social practices and gender equality in Myanmar. Gender Equality Network Yangon.[online] Available from: http://www. genmyanmar. org/publications/GEN% 20Raising% 20the% 20Curtain% 20Full% 20E ng. pdf [Accessed: 18/9-16].

Paris, T. R., and M.F. Rola-Rubzen (Eds.). (2019). Gender Dimension of Climate Change Research in Agriculture

Pérez, C., Jones, E., Kristjanson, P. M., Cramer, L., Thornton, P. K., Förch, W., & Barahona, C. (2014). How resilient are farming households, communities, men and women to a changing climate in Africa?

Searchinger, T., Adhya, T. K., Linquist, B., Wassmann, R., & Yan, X. (2015). Wetting and drying: reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving water from rice production.

Thein, P. T. (2015). Gender equality and cultural norms in Myanmar. Paper presented at the INT’L CONFERENCE ON BURMA/MYANMAR STUDIES (Jul. 2015).

UNDP. (2018). Human Development Report. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/table-5-gender-inequality-index-gii

Villavicencio, F., Rosimo, M., Vidallo, R., Oro, E., & Gonsalves, J. (2018). Equity, empowerment and gender relations: A literature review of special relevance for climate-smart agriculture programming.

Wassmann, R., Jagadish, S., Sumfleth, K., Pathak, H., Howell, G., Ismail, A., . . . Heuer, S. (2009). Regional vulnerability of climate change impacts on Asian rice production and scope for adaptation. Advances in agronomy, 102, 91-133.

WOMEN, U. (2016). Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in Myanmar: A Situation Analysis.

Yan, X., Akiyama, H., Yagi, K., & Akimoto, H. (2009). Global estimations of the inventory and mitigation potential of methane emissions from rice cultivation conducted using the 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Guidelines. Global biogeochemical cycles, 23(2).


This National Holiday celebrates the start of Spring, of growth and usually marks the start of another years agricultural practises. However due to Climate Change Farmers in recent decades find they can no longer thrust these traditional farming calendars or weather forecasting methods. https://www.themimu.info/sites/themimu.info/files/documents/Case%20Study_DryZone_FarmerVulnerablity-ClimateViration_KhinMoeKyi_ICIRD2012.pdf. This uncertainty is a major impact on the security of our global food system, from the Shannon Callows in Clonown, Ireland, to Htee Pu Village in the Dryland zone of Myanmar, S.E. Asia.

This bank holiday I’ll continue with background reading to gain a thorough history of Myanmar which formed its current political, socio-economic situation. In order to understand Myanmar’s perceptions of climate change and gender dimensions of agriculture and food security, which my CCAFS thesis is based on.