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Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition • FSN Forum

Re: Mainstreaming gender for sustainable soil management

Andrew Patterson
Andrew PattersonCAREUnited States of America

CARE’s experience has shown that women act as catalysts for change, galvanizing positive effects for those around them. Inequitable social and gender norm barriers impact power structures in households and communities, and women are denied access to resources and knowledge that are instrumental to increase food security. Simultaneously, women are 43% of the farming work force in developing countries, and specifically addressing gender and social barriers improves their chances to sustainably address food insecurity (FAO).

CARE uses a gender-sensitive Farmer Field Business School that addresses harmful inequities head on. The FFBS is a participatory, women-focused extension approach that helps farmers build skills necessary to increase production, access markets, collaborate with each other,  and engage in beneficial and efficient decision making. It also transforms the status and recognition of women by providing the support they require to be successful farmers, business-people, leaders, and agents of change. Evidence shows that participation in the FFBS builds women’s self-confidence and expands their autonomy; reduces gender-based violence; and engenders respect from their families and communities towards them.

Women all-too-often have limited access to knowledge and capacity building Sustainable soil management creates favorable conditions for good crop growth, seed germination, emergent root growth, plant development, crop maturity and formation, and harvest. Sustainable soil management, increased food production and gender equity are inextricably linked together, and the Farmer Field Business School model specifically trains women and men farmers on soil structure, soil moisture, water infiltration, mulching, erosion, weeds, soil organisms, and cover crops, among other topics.