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Supporting Asia-Pacific agriculture with better data

Access to agricultural land emerged as the number-one source of gender inequality in national gender profiles compiled for the first time ever in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam.

Farmers in Cambodia harvesting rice seedlings. [FAO/A.K. Kimoto]

In Cambodia, female-headed households have access to about 21 percent less land than male-headed households, while in Lao PDR and Vietnam; they have 16 and 27 percent less land, respectively.

These details were among those included in profiles published after nearly one year of re-tabulation and analysis of existing government census data and other statistics. Technical and financial support for the initiative came from a strategic partnership between FAO and Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

The initiative, Strengthening National Capacities for Socially- and Sex-Disaggregated Data in Agriculture and Rural Development (SDD project), addressed the need for high quality, reliable statistical data gathered according to sex and age for the food and agriculture sector – data that could help the Asia-Pacific region to more effectively target agricultural and rural development policies and programmes.

The profiles showed that in Vietnam, less than a tenth of all commercial farms were owned by female-headed households. And in the mountain-plateau zone of Cambodia, the average land size of female-headed households was up to 54 percent smaller than in male-headed households, leading female-headed households to produce up to 8 times less rice.

While the profiles looked closely at access to land, crops produced, access to equipment and other resources for use in farming, fisheries and forestry, some of the data also looked at a broader range of economic and social details that could provide information on gender in agricultural households. These areas included access to financial services; literacy and educational level; available technology and training; communication sources, and access to food, drinking water and sanitation.

The tables revealed gender inequalities in access to productive resources, as well as basic amenities and social services. In Laos, women had fewer alternative income and loan opportunities, spent a greater portion of their total expenditures on food purchases, and had less access to safe drinking water than men.

In Vietnam, statistics also showed a disparity in access to financial services. Proportionally fewer female-headed households accessed loans – 24 percent compared to 33 percent in male-headed households.

In Laos, 9 percent fewer women than men had completed primary school, while in Cambodia, the proportion of educated males in agricultural households was 10 percent higher than that of female members.

The country profiles were created during the process of developing, testing and finalizing a Gender and Agricultural Statistics Framework (GASF), which is designed to guide both producers and users of statistics through a series of standard stages for producing sex-disaggregated data.

The stages include identification of gender and agriculture issues to investigate, the listing of relevant statistics or indicators, the identification of appropriate data sources, and the re-tabulation and analysis of existing data according to sex.

GASF was designed to be used by countries worldwide and is compatible with the World Programme for the Census of Agriculture (WCA) and FAO statistical frameworks like FAOSTAT and CountrySTAT. It draws on several existing frameworks and toolkits designed for gender and poverty analysis and the collection of agricultural statistics.

The GASF was developed in recognition of the multi-faceted approach needed in order to document women’s roles in agriculture and gender disparities in access to productive resources.

Government ministries in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have indicated that they plan to incorporate the GASF in planning and analyzing the next round of agricultural censuses.