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Gender inequality in the agrifood systems of Latin America and the Caribbean

New study highlights the contributions of women to cassava, quinoa, corn and cotton value chains.

© FAO / Max Toranzos
01/08/2016

Women play a major role in agrifood systems in Latin America and the Caribbean, both in the production, processing and marketing of food, despite facing multiple inequalities, according to a new FAO study (in Spanish only) which examines the value chains of cassava (Belize), quinoa (Bolivia), corn (Guatemala) and the regional cultivation of cotton from a gender perspective.

"In rural areas, the contribution of women is mostly invisible although they perform a large part of the activities at farm level as well as domestic work and unpaid home care", said Claudia Brito, FAO Gender Officer.

The study notes that participation of women is more pronounced in activities that involve time and physical effort, such as planting, weeding and harvesting. Conversely, they are less represented in those links of the productive chain associated with increased revenue generation and active participation in highly competitive markets.

According to FAO, the strategic integration of the gender perspective in national agrifood systems can lead to a substantial improvement in the competitiveness of markets, particularly those where women can offer their products without the intervention of intermediaries.

"Changing this situation would not only improve the living conditions of women but of all the region, thanks to increased productivity, sustainability and equity in agrifood systems and associated value chains," said Brito. "A fundamental part of the effort to eradicate hunger in the region is via strengthening the role of rural women in value chains in which they not only participate, but often lead."

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