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Gender and Land Rights Database

The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11: Women in Agriculture (FAO)


The State of Food and Agriculture 2010–11 makes the “business case” for addressing gender issues in agriculture and rural employment. The agriculture sector is underperforming in many developing countries, in part because women do not have equal access to the resources and opportunities they need to be more productive.The gender gap imposes real costs on society in terms of lost agricultural output, food security and economic growth. Promoting gender equality is not only good for women; it is also good for agricultural development.

Women make essential contributions to the rural economy of all developing country regions as farmers, labourers and entrepreneurs. Their roles are diverse and changing rapidly, so generalizations should be made carefully. Yetone fact is strikingly consistent across countries and contexts: women have less access than men to agricultural assets, inputs and services and to rural employment opportunities.

This report documents the different roles played by women in rural areas of developing countries and provides solid empirical evidence on the gender gaps they face in agriculture and rural employment. Compared with their male counterparts, women:

• operate smaller farms, on average only half to two-thirds as large;

• keep fewer livestock, typically of smaller breeds, and earn less from the livestock they do own;

• have a greater overall workload that includes a heavy burden of low-productivity activities like fetching water and firewood;

• have less education and less access to agricultural information and extension services;

• use less credit and other financial services;

• are much less likely to purchase inputs such as fertilizers, improved seeds and mechanical equipment;

• if employed, are more likely to be in part-time, seasonal and low-paying jobs; and

• receive lower wages for the same work, even when they have the same experience and qualifications.