Making agricultural and climate risk insurance gender inclusive

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IFAD’s technical assistance programme INSURED (Insurance for rural resilience and economic development) has been building knowledge about how to strengthen women producers’ access to climate risk insurance. Working with partners, INSURED supported research, and fieldwork in Ethiopia including group discussions with smallholders about insurance options. 

Rural women in developing countries play a huge and diverse role in agriculture. Some are smallholders, others are wage labourers or unpaid workers on family farms. Some women are members of producers’ groups with independent incomes, or are in charge of market gardening for consumption and sale. Often with multiple roles, they are all part of the female farming community and pillars of rural household development. Overall, women make up about half the agricultural labour force in developing countries, and a smaller percentage own a farm. Together with their heavy burden of care work, they therefore shoulder significant responsibilities for both food production and income generation.
Farmers in developing countries live and work in high-risk environments, but not everyone is equally vulnerable. Women and men respond to risks differently, and women are harder hit by shocks. Women are more likely to die in natural disasters or suffer more from resulting food shortages, and their lower levels of economic participation undermine their resilience. Women’s vulnerability is rooted in interlocking inequalities. These include restricted access to resources, lower levels of land and livestock ownership, and of education. Because they mainly work in the informal sector, women have low levels of formal social protection. In addition, the impact of shocks on the whole household may affect them disproportionately. Crucially, they lack access to agricultural risk management techniques and to formal financial systems, including risk transfer options such as agricultural and climate risk insurance. 

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