Women farmers could feed an extra 150 million people

8 March, 2011 by (comments)

Food production could increase by up to 20 per cent if women were given access to the same agricultural resources as men – according to a new report from the FAO – which translates into feeding an extra 150 million hungry people worldwide.

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This year’s edition of the FAO flagship publication The State of Food and Agriculture, promotes the importance of gender equality in agriculture for achieving food security. Its launch coincides with the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, which champions the civil, working, and political rights of women throughout the world.

Gender equality has been improved in many parts of the globe in the last century, however discrepancies still exist.

Consider the statistics:

Significant productivity is lost, the FAO report continues, when women are not given access to the same agricultural resources as their male counterparts, including land, livestock, education, extension services, credit, and fertilizers. Lack of legal rights to these resources is a big problem for women, but they also have competing demands on their time, such as child care, housework, and water and fuel collection.

More focus on empowering women to express their needs and claim their rights would increase global yields and contribute to reducing poverty and hunger, the report says.

The CIAT Participatory Research and Gender Analysis Program aims to raise the profile of gender issues across all areas of agricultural research, so that the views of women are given as much consideration as those of men. Current projects look at gender preferences in the adoption of new crop varieties such as genetically modified cotton and drought tolerant beans.

International Women’s Day presents an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of women in improving the quality of life for themselves, their families and their communities – from the humble farmer to the international activist – and consider what we can do to continue empowering half the world’s population.

Watch this inspiring tribute from AlertNet depicting the faces and voices of women throughout the world.

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Filed Under: Agro-ecology and Economics @en