Men and women in agriculture: closing the gap

Financial services

Financial services such as savings, credit and insurance provide opportunities for improving agricultural output, food security and economic vitality at the household, community and national levels. Without access to credit, producers may be unable to bear the risks and up-front costs associated with the innovations and investment necessary to enhance their productivity, income and well-being. 

But evidence shows that credit markets are not gender-neutral: Women generally have less control over the types of fixed assets that are usually necessary as collateral for loans. Legal barriers and cultural norms can bar women from holding bank accounts or entering into financial contracts in their own right. And institutional discrimination by private and public lending institutions often rations women out of the market, or grants them loans that are smaller than those granted to men for similar activities.1 These constraints on women’s access to capital have a measurable negative impact on their production capabilities.

Policy recommendations

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Key facts

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  1. D. Fletschner. 2009. Rural women’s access to credit: market imperfections and intrahousehold dynamics. World Development, 37(3): 618–631; World Bank, FAO & IFAD. 2009. Gender in agriculture sourcebook. Washington, DC, World Bank.
  2. L. Mayoux & M. Hartl. 2009. Gender and rural microfinance: reaching and empowering women. Guide for practitioners. Rome, IFAD.
  3. World Bank, FAO & IFAD, see note 1.
  4. R. Duncombe & R. Boateng. 2009. Mobile phones and financial services in developing countries: a review of concepts, methods, issues, evidence and future research directions. Third World Quarterly, 30(7): 1237–1258.
  5. World Bank. 2007. World Development Report 2008. Agriculture for development. Washington, DC.
SOFA 2010-2011


FAO Gender Programme
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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