The impacts of climate change on women workers

New report with the FCDO’s Work and Opportunities for Women Programme outlines the impacts of climate change on women tea workers in Kenya and Malawi.

In 2022 we collaborated on a research partnership through the FCDO’s Work and Opportunities for Women (WOW) Programme. The resulting report maps out key actions and recommendations to help women tea farmers in Malawi and Kenya, and to get a better understanding of the challenges ahead for women in supply chains as the climate crisis continues.

As well as tea, the WOW programme also looked at two other supply chains:

  • Horticulture and fresh produce in Kenya, working with UK supermarket Waitrose.
  • Cotton in Pakistan, with retailer Primark.

The report is based on interviews with over 400 women smallholder farmers, and revealed the following impacts:

  • Time: Increase in unpaid care & domestic work: e.g. time spent collecting depleted supplies of water and wood.
  • Health: Higher vulnerability to physical and mental health impacts e.g. extreme heat and malnutrition.
  • Knowledge: Less time for climate smart training due to household responsibilities and restrictions on mobility.
  • Leadership: Less able to become climate smart agricultural leaders as interactions with extension officers or seed companies are perceived as ‘men’s roles’.
  • Gender-based violence: Increasing drought impacting food security, causing tensions which manifest in domestic violence.
  • Income: gender gap in access and control e.g. women in lower-ranked jobs like tea picking which are more affected by weather events when compared to management positions.
  • Assets: Lack of land ownership preventing access to loans in times of climate shocks.

Economically empowering more women farmers could accelerate much needed action on climate-smart agriculture, raising incomes and reducing emissions.

Examples of solutions in the report include: payment for ecosystem services; village-based agent models; engaging men across the supply chain to redistribute caring responsibilities; and much more. The report also calls for all net zero strategies to integrate a gender lens.

Click here to download the report.