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A Palestinian woman selling vegetables in the Alhspa Marketplace. [FAO/A. Romenzi]

Decent employment: pathway out of poverty

Access to decent employment is one of the most effective ways for rural people to lift themselves out of poverty. This article presents a number of facts taken from the new UN interagency report: "Gender dimensions of agricultural and rural employment: Differentiated pathways out of poverty".

Agriculture is the main source of rural employment for both women and men in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. In Latin America, rural men work mostly in agriculture while women are equally distributed in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. In The Middle East and North Africa, women work mostly in agriculture and men mostly in non-agricultural sectors. Non-agricultural activities are the main source of employment for both men and women in Central Asia and Europe. 

In regions where agriculture is the main employer of rural populations, the number of working poor is particularly high. In 2008, 45.5 % in South Asia and 58.6 % in sub-Saharan Africa were in working poverty.

Men and women are engaged in vulnerable employment in similar proportions worldwide, in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the working poor represent the majority of the working population, about 85 percent of women have vulnerable jobs, while only 75 percent of men face a same situation. 

Six out of ten of the world’s poorest people are women. 

When women receive the same levels of education, experience and farm inputs as men, there are no significant differences in male and female farmers’ productivity. 

Educating and providing women with opportunities to take part in skilled paid employment provides benefits to their families and communities in the form of lower fertility rates, decreased child mortality, increased child health and nutrition and improved levels of children’s education.

Women employed as regular workers are less discriminated against in agriculture (where they get 79% of the male wage) than in other non agriculture sectors (which pay women only 57% of the male wage).

Overall, rural women work longer hours then men. In Benin and Tanzania, women work, respectively, 17.4 and 14 hours more than men per week; while rural Indian women work almost 11 hours more than urban women and 12 hours more than urban men. 

Globally, an estimated 60 percent of the world’s 218 million child labourers are working in agriculture. 

Some 170,000 agricultural workers are killed each year and millions more are seriously injured. Accidents are markedly more frequent among men, probably due to their use of larger and more dangerous machinery. 

Publié: 07/02/2011

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