The face of rural farming is changing. Women farmers in developing nations are critical to life and survival in rural communities. But the gender gap continues to fuel hunger:
- Laws and traditions prevent women from owning and inheriting land.
- Women own smaller, poor quality land, resulting in less productive crops.
- Women have limited access to quality seeds, fertilizers and equipment.
If given similar resources as men, women could reduce hunger by 150 million people.
Resilient Women Farmers
Women farm the land to feed their families, earn a living, build community, and help the planet. They maintain the community’s culture, local economy, protect nature, and grow food. As more men leave to work in the cities, women step in to create the family income.
Here’s a look at the numbers. The World Bank statistics on women farmers from 1980 to 2010 showed an increase around the world:
- North Africa: 30% to 45%.
- The Middle East: 35% to 48%
- Syria, Iraq, and Morocco: 30% to 50% – 60%
- Sub-Saharan Africa: Stable at 60%
- Armenia: 45% to 59% (1999 to 2013)
Feeding 150 Million People
When you think about global hunger, many hungry people live in rural areas and rely on agriculture as their livelihood. World hunger looks like this:
- Asia, the Pacific, Indonesia, the Philippines: 553 million people
- Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Niger and Mali: 227 million people
- Latin America, the Caribbean, Guatemala and Haiti: 47 million people
It is possible for women farmers to feed 150 million people.
Women farmers can feed more people if they have the resources needed to make a difference. Resources include land rights, services, farming equipment, training, and financing.
Doing More With Less
Conditions of gender inequity create challenges for women farmers in rural countries. With economic and social limitations, women do more work with fewer resources.
For example, women farmers:
- Make up 60 to 80% of the smallholder farmers (less than 4 acres) worldwide
- Grow 90% of the food in Africa
- Grow about 50% of the food worldwide
Women support the world’s agriculture with less than 10% of credit, own 15% of the land, and 5% of extension services (aid for agriculture, fishing, forestry).
Unfortunately, women farmers are ignored when it comes to policy decisions, educational programs and development plans that impact their lives and communities.
Women hold the knowledge and expertise to create food security and build local economies in rural areas.
Women farmers in rural areas are critical to the future of food. Agriculture uses 70% of water, 34% of land and gives out 30% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Rural agriculture has a key role in reducing poverty. Rural farmers need practical tools to improve the quality, amount, and variety of their crops. Women farmers are community assets that drive local economies, feed the world’s growing population, and protect nature.
Women farmers are the world’s assets to lead change in the global food system. We need them to create climate-resilient agriculture and respond to weather-related disasters.
Women will continue to farm the land, build food and nutrition security for their families, and nurture the environment. Women can change the food system by influencing policies and agencies that offer public goods (water, energy, sanitation, social infrastructures).
Closing the gender gaps is critical to designing solutions to feed people for the future.
Women in Africa are really the pillar of society, are the most productive segment of society, actually. They do agriculture.
~~~ Mo Ibrahim ~~~