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56%

by 2050, of crop production will be negatively affected by climate change. We must act fast.

What

do you think of when you hear the word farmer? Perhaps you envisage a sturdy man in overalls standing alone in his corn field. Sweat trickling down his skin after many hours toiling in the sun; resting his spade across his right shoulder as he surveys his farm. Perhaps he makes his way over to a bright red tractor, his heavy boots sinking into wet soil. Let’s say his name is John.

come when it should, or too much falls at once, then not only will farmers have less food, but the chances of selling excess produce disappears – and along with it, the chance to afford ‘luxuries’ such as education.

But John is not your typical farmer. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, John does not exist. In Africa, John is most likely a woman. In fact, women farmers constitute up to 70% of Africa’s workforce for food production. They labour small farms, producing haphazard crops for personal consumption. They are guaranteed to be amongst the world’s poorest, earning less than US $1.25 a day. Rarely will they have access to advanced equipment, like tractors.

By 2080, Africa’s annual average temperatures are expected to rise by 3-4°C; this seems a small increment, but it is far above the United Nations’ catastrophic limit of 2°C. Extreme heat-waves that we only experience every couple of centuries will become normal during summer months. By 2050, scientists are expecting that 56 percent of all crop production in Africa will be negatively affected by climate change. This will pose an enormous threat to the livelihoods of African women who will be disproportionately affected.

A woman farmer will never have the same rights or privileges as John. Even though they work more than men, they receive significantly less benefits. They are 10 percent less likely to access credit to invest in their farms than their male counterparts. Women farmers are 50% less likely to access fertilisers, high-quality seeds, mechanical tools and equipment. And even though two in three farmers are female, men own 99% of Africa’s land. On top of this, climate change is risking livelihoods. With a global temperature rise comes erratic and extreme weather. If rainfall does not

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Let’s envisage a female farmer in 10 years’ time, let’s say her name is Amri. She receives a text message warning her about a likely drought. Amri’s community, however, has a small irrigation system draining water from a nearby dam; now she can ensure the system is working so she won’t be affected. Her hands reach into a large brown fabric sack and she begins planting weather resilient seeds she has purchased with money borrowed from a bank; her output has dramatically increased. With knowledge of market prices she has decided to invest her money in


Closing the Gender Gap