Agricultural Development Economics


If women hold up half the sky, how much of the world’s food do they produce?
Cheryl Doss
Publication date
This paper explores, conceptually and empirically, the question of how much food is produced by women. Data for labour inputs and agricultural output are used to assess women’s contribution to food and agricultural production. The study also assesses gender differences in productivity. The paper finds that a precise measure of women’s contribution to food production is impossible to establish. In general women do not produce food separately from men and it is impossible to disaggregate men and women’s contributions either in terms of labor supplied or in terms of output produced. Ultimately the precise contribution women make to food production is irrelevant. It is enough to recognize that women are important to agriculture and agriculture is important to women. There is evidence that shows that women farm as productively as men do, when they have access to the same resources. But they often do not have access to the improved technologies, credit, land and other resources. Additional data is needed to understand better women’s roles and constraints in agriculture so as to appropriately design interventions that target women.
JEL Codes
Q10, J16, J21, J22, J24