Agricultural Development Economics


Gender and Law, women’s rights in agriculture
FAO legislative study number 76
Lorenzo Cotula
Publication date
Throughout the world, women constitute a large portion of the economically active population engaged in agriculture, both as farmers and as farm workers, and play a crucial role in ensuring household food security. In many countries, the role of women in agricultural production has increased in recent years as a result of men’s migration to urban areas and absorption in non-agricultural sectors. However, in many parts of the world, women have little or no access to resources such as land, credit and extension services. Moreover, women tend to remain concentrated in the informal sector of the economy. In plantations, they often provide labour without employment contracts, on a temporary or seasonal basis or as wives or daughters of male farm workers. In this context, many rural women work hard to improve and secure their access to livelihood assets and activities. All over the world, one can find examples of women negotiating rights to land and associated resources – for instance, by entering sharecropping arrangements or by buying land, either individually or collectively. In many parts of the world, NGOs help women’s groups obtain access to land on a collective basis.