Gender, livestock and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Costa Rica

Gender, livestock and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is developing a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) that will provide climate finance for best livestock management practices that generate climate change mitigation benefits. The LivestockPlus research project, implemented by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and partners, seeks to inform the NAMA by providing scientific evidence for improved pasture and cattle management to sustainably improve yields while also reducing emissions. Women are a target beneficiary of the research, yet the relevance of gender to the project’s aims has been unclear. A scoping exercise to identify opportunities to strengthen the gender component was therefore undertaken in 2015 using a case study in Costa Rica and a literature review.  This exercise identified women’s roles as (1) co-decision-makers with men in the household, (2) users of milk for making cheese (most households) and (3) farmers directly involved in livestock production activities under some circumstances.  Girls, together with boys, frequently played a role in the daily care of animals, which may influence girls’ capacities and willingness to become future farmers. The scoping exercise indicated opportunities for enhancing women’s roles in the cattle value chain and more generally, supporting women’s inclusion in (i) livestock and innovation for climate change mitigation, (ii) gender-responsive implementation of the NAMA, and (iii) capacity development.

The following priority actions are recommended for strengthening gender research in Costa Rica:

  • create an umbrella strategy for all members of the LivestockPlus consortium to develop, coordinate and implement research on gender, livestock and mitigation. The strategy should examine opportunities to empower women in the cattle value chain (e.g., improve their role in participation and access to benefits related to cheese making) and include women in innovation processes, NAMA implementation and capacity building. The strategy should be responsive to the needs of both men and women farmers and stakeholders in the consortium
  • build synergies across the gender component of the project’s research streams.  This should include strengthening the gender component in value chain development, identifying the opportunities and constraints to women’s effective participation in intermediary organizations; and improving among all streams the understanding of men and women’s empowerment, with the aim of improving women’s participation in decision making and access to benefits. Research on intermediary organisations, such as informal farmer organisations, Costa Rica’s Livestock Development Corporation (CORFOGA  http://corfoga.org) chapters, community-level organizations, women's groups, and private sector value chain partners  is essential to identify and develop opportunities for women to participate in activities at the farm level and in value chains
  • conduct research on gender and youth on the 98 pilot farms informing Costa Rica’s understanding of production systems and pilot work on NAMAs
  • engage women and youth in capacity development on the 98 pilot farms. Activities should equally include men to support intra-household decision-making processes around farm planning. Consider farmer field schools and household methodologies
  • establish effective and rapid data-sharing mechanisms among key decision makers and implementers to facilitate implementation of lessons learned
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