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Women’s Leadership in Resilience

ActionAid is working with poor communities across the world to support them in building their resilience to disasters, climate change and other shocks and stresses. This work is of ever-growing importance, not only because of changing weather patterns and rising temperatures increasing the likelihood of disasters, but also because of growing risks related to violent conflict, human and livestock epidemics, environmental degradation and political and economic crises.

The shape and nature of our resilience programmes varies from country to country, depending on the local context, but generally includes a combination of approaches such as disaster risk reduction, climate resilient sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, humanitarian response and recovery, and promoting accountable and inclusive governance. What sets us apart is our focus on women’s rights and leadership in resilience-building.

This publication includes case studies that demonstrate the courage and skills of women who have taken up leadership roles in different resilience-building initiatives in eight countries across Africa and Asia. The stories illustrate the personal changes women have experienced, from being confined to their domestic responsibilities to participating in community decision-making processes and earning an income from different livelihood activities. They show the transformative change that women can bring about individually, or when they organise as a group. Such as in Vietnam, where women have demanded local authorities recognise and protect their right to forest land, and led the design and implementation of sustainable forest-based livelihoods. Or in Malawi, where women have decided to transition to agro-ecological farming practices, demonstrating its success and encouraging the larger community to follow suit.