This member participated in the following discussions
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.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential to contribute to sustainable soil management and conservation because they address underlying resource and knowledge inequities between women and men that affect soil management, land tenure, and a host of other related topics. CARE’s She Feeds the World programmatic framework has six identified interrelated areas of change to focus priority interventions: supporting women’s empowerment; increasing women’s access to and control of productive resources; enabling women’s access to inclusive markets; improving nutrition; promoting social protection; and, multiplying impact to enable change at scale.
Priority activities for women’s empowerment are building agency, changing relations, and transforming structures and these underpin systemic gaps in resources and capacities to sustainably manage soil. Beyond these activities, those that address access to, and control of productive resources are imperative because the ability to access and control productive assets and resources is vital for women and youth producers. It impacts their ability to engage in sustainable agriculture and markets, manage short term environmental shocks, and effectively cope with climate shifts. Women’s control over assets are also related to decision-making at home and in the rural economy, which affects their children’s wellbeing. She Feeds the World improves access to information, appropriate agricultural and productive resources, and assets, prioritizing land water, inputs, technology and information (including clean energy), and finance.
Land access, in general, is a priority topic because most land inheritance systems ensure that land is owned and controlled by men (FAO, 2011). As a result, women lack the opportunity to access land for production. Where land is communally owned, traditional leaders prioritize access for men because they do not value women as producers. In places where have families have land titles, men are dramatically more likely to be the sole title holders and as such women are unable to use the land as collateral to access loans for investment in production. Access to land is increasingly under threat as speculators and commercial producers spread their demand for land and water resources to new areas, while community natural resource management structures are mainly male-dominated, constraining women’s rights to natural resources and the ecosystem services they provide. The productive capacity of land that women can access is increasingly constrained due to soil-loos, over-production and desertification: a fifth of cropland has been so degraded it is no loner suitable for farming (Interaction, 2011). SFTW addresses this injustice through a multi-pronged process that includes gender and community dialogues on access to land, advocacy to influence policy on access and utilization of land for women, innovative approaches to titling and enabling women’s access and control of land, climate resilient agriculture approaches to promote increased soil quality and water retention and to regenerate degraded land, and landscape approaches for natural resource management and risk reduction.