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FAO report details gender inequalities in rural Georgia

Breeding livestock, producing crops and household goods, fetching water and firewood, housework, cooking for family, looking after children, caring for the elderly and sick members of the family – this is the short list of rural women’s obligations in Georgia.

However, the contribution of women to agricultural production remains invisible and under-recognized, according to a report released this week by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), supported by the European Union and the Austrian Government.

Georgia is primarily an agricultural country, and women are crucial participants and contributors to agricultural development. Nonetheless, rural women rarely see themselves as farmers, because most of the work they perform is considered part of their family responsibilities. Further increasing women’s workload and time burden are poor countryside infrastructure, the low level of housing, and limited access to transport and modern energy supplies.

The FAO report Gender, agriculture and rural development in Georgia explores existing gender inequalities in agriculture and their underlying causes, along with impacts on economic and social development in rural areas and on food security and nutrition. The report highlights the challenges, gaps and practices that need to be considered by policymakers and project managers in Georgia.

The report reiterates the main gender inequalities in the country – namely, the gaps between policies, legislation and implementation. Despite the progress made by the Government of Georgia in improving gender equality policies, the enforcement and monitoring of these laws and policies remain a challenge.

The report points out the gender gap in earnings and gender-based segregation in employment: Because women are usually perceived as helpers or as contributing family members, they are more likely to be involved in unpaid and informal work. Women are also paid less in almost all agricultural sectors. On average, Georgian women earn 75 percent of men’s salaries; in fisheries, that falls all the way down to 35 percent. And usually, men prevail in higher managerial positions and better-paid jobs in agriculture, engineering and construction, where very few women are represented.

At the same time, this assessment emphasizes women’s limited access to productive resources such as land, finance and decision-making – and more limited when compared to men – access to information, new technologies and agricultural inputs. This may happen due to widespread stereotypes that areas such as agricultural machinery, for example, “naturally” belong to the man’s domain. Trainings and services for these products also tend to be directed towards men. This approach not only sustains the existing status quo but also overlooks women’s existing roles (in the management and storage of pesticides, for example), ignoring that if women had better access to training and information, they would increase agricultural productivity.
“Limited access to ownership of land and other resources, material and nonmaterial, is one of the major barriers for women’s empowerment in rural areas,” said Dono Abdurazakova, a senior gender expert with FAO. “Due to limited or no access to land, women cannot participate in some of the agricultural funding schemes and are not always eligible for bank loans, leaving them at a significant disadvantage. Thus, there is a need to make funding schemes accessible for women living in rural areas through women-targeted interventions.”

The report identifies the need for further research in a wide range of areas related to gender, food security and agriculture. Based on the review of the main challenges, the report suggests a set of recommendations not only for FAO but also for policy makers, programme and project implementers, and wider groups of practitioners and service providers in agriculture and rural development.

The publication was produced under a project providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia, funded by the Austrian Development Agency. The production of the document was supported by the European Union under the European Neighborhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).

The report is the sixth in the series of FAO country gender assessments of agriculture and the rural sector in Europe and Central Asia

25 October 2018, Tbilisi, Georgia

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