Farming First showcases stories of women about to fill the gender gap in agriculture

This International Women’s Day, Farming First has launched a new campaign asking “where does the gender gap in agriculture still exist, and how can we fill it?”

According to a recent report from UN Women, only 13 per cent of agricultural landholders worldwide are women. Despite significant growth in recent years, only 30 per cent of agricultural scientists in Kenya and Nigeria are female, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. FAO also reports that women receive only 10 per cent of the aid directed to agriculture, and only five per cent of agricultural extension services.

But progress is being made. A new webpage launched this week by Farming First tells the stories of six women from around the world successfully closing this gender gap.

This includes the story of Chanda Devi, Chairperson of a co-operative in Bihar, India, that has worked with TechnoServe to train 260 women on lychee production. It also includes the story of Habibou Tiendrebeogo, a female farmer from Burkina Faso that has received on-farm training to become more resilient to climate change, using improved seeds and storage facilities.

AGRA’s Vice President of Country Support, Policy, and Delivery, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, provided expert commentary for the campaign.

“It is critical that governments commit to addressing the gender gap if we are to have a food secure Africa,” she said. “We know that while women do the lion’s share of the agricultural work in sub-Saharan Africa, they are not receiving their fair share of the resources and training. This in turn puts a heavy cost burden on society in terms of lost agricultural output, and economic growth. Closing the gender gap should be viewed as a business priority and an economic imperative.”

“Research shows that women are less able to access climate-smart training than men. AGRA’s efforts are changing this reality. Since we started our work in soil health in 2008, we have seen 1.7 million farmers adopt climate-smart practices like integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) on over 1.6 million hectares of land. Out of these, over 60 per cent have been women”, added Sibanda.

“If we empower more women like Habibou, we will see a domino effect in African communities. Because if a woman is more productive, her increased income will be spent on the education, health and nutrition of her children. In order to do this, we must ensure that women can make decisions on production, access and deployment of resources such as land, use of income and time allocation.”

“Passing laws that ensure women have equal access to land, inputs, seeds, extension and financial services, post-harvest facilities and markets will be critical. In addition, governments should seize opportunities for innovation and make technologies, equipment and inputs for women farmers more accessible through flagship programs or subsidy programs that can get women farmers on their feet.”

“We also need more public-private partnerships that ensure more and more unbanked women are banked can access credit and have control over use of income.”

Visit the new Farming First gender gap page here:

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