Women and Agriculture

  • Edit
  • Discuss
  • History
From wikigender.org
Revision as of 16:29, 19 August 2011 by Inesinprogress (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search


Agriculture may be defined as “production that relies essentially on the growth and nurturing of plants and animals, especially for food, usually with land as an important input; farming”  [umich.edu]


About 4.8 billion hectares of land- more than a third of the earth’s total land area- are used for agriculture. [World Book]


Contents

Women in agriculture

“Women play a significant role in agriculture, the world over. About 70% of the agricultural workers, 80% of food producers, and 10% of those who process basic foodstuffs are women and they also undertake 60 to 90% of the rural marketing; thus making up more than two-third of the workforce in agricultural production (FAO, 1985). In West Africa, up to 80% of the labour force in all trade is female. Yet, the role of women in these activities, so important economically, has remained obscure for long because women seldom played any major roles in political activities or decision making processes . Despite the fact that women produce much of the food in the developing world, they also remain more malnourished than most men are. In many rural societies, women eat less food than men do, especially when the food is scarce, such as just before the harvest, or when the workload increases without a corresponding increase in the food intake." (Roodkowsky, 1979)

[Participatory Assessment of the Impact of Women in Agriculture Program of Borno State, Nigeria]


“Although women do the majority of work in agriculture at the global level, elder men, for the most part, still own the land, control women’s labor, and make agricultural decisions in patriarchal social systems.” [Carolyn Sachs]


In the EU, agriculture is the seventh largest employer of women (3%). However, in Greece about 38% women (of all family workers in agriculture) are employed in agriculture. In Portugal, over 50% of the agricultural workforce is female. [EASHW]


Throughout the South Asian region, women account for about 39 percent of the agricultural workforce, working as managers of land to agricultural laborers. [IFPRI]


In India, in over all farm production, women’s average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% ...In the Indian Himalayas a pair of bullocks works 1064 hours, a man 1212 hours and a woman 3485 hours in a year on a once hectare farm, a figure that illustrates women’s significant contribution to agricultural production. (Shiva FAO, 1991) [NCW]


Women provide one half of the labour in rice cultivation in India (Unnevehr and Stanford, 1986). In the plantation sector women are the crucial labourers (Shivaram, 1988). Depending on the region and crops, women's contributions vary but they provide pivotal labour from planting to harvesting and post-harvest operations...In rural India, agriculture and allied industrial sectors employ as much as 89.5% of the total female labour. [FAO]


In China, women constitute about 70 percent of the agricultural labor force and perform more than 70 percent of farm labor...the general pattern is- the poorer the area, the higher women's contribution, largely as subsistence farmers who farm small pieces of land, often less than 0.2 hectares. [AGNET/UNIFEM]

Diversion of income from women

According to FAO, the rapid modernization of agriculture and the introduction of new technologies, such as those that characterized the green revolution, have benefited the wealthy more than the poor, and men more than women. This premise is also supported by the ILO, which has found that new techniques in agriculture, particularly those involving commercialization, "often shift economic control, employment and profit from women to men". The diversion of income from women causes increased suffering for families because studies have found that, in general, income controlled by women benefits families more than income controlled by men. [UN]


Feminisation of agriculture

Feminisation of agriculture refers to women’s increasing participation in the agricultural labor force, whether as independent producers, as unremunerated family workers, or as agricultural wage workers. Specifically, feminisation of agriculture entails:


1. An increase in women’s participation rates in the agricultural sector, either as self-employed or as agricultural wage workers; in other words, an increase in the percentage of women who are economically active in rural areas.


2. An increase in the percentage of women in the agricultural labor force relative to men, either because more women are working and/or because fewer men are working in agriculture.

[Feminization of Agriculture: Trends and Driving Forces]


According to the FAO, while the proportion of the labor force working in agricultural declined over the 1990s, the proportion of women working in agriculture increased, particularly in developing countries. In some regions such as Africa and Asia, almost half of the labor force is women. This trend has been called the feminisation of agriculture. This feminisation of agriculture is caused by increased "casualization" of work, unprofitable crop production and distress migration of men "for higher casual work in agriculture and non-agriculture sectors", leaving women to take up low paid casual work in agriculture.

[AGNET/UNIFEM]


FAO facts

[FAO-WFS / FAO]


FAO’s approach to gender equality

“FAO advocates gender equality and promotes the economic and social empowerment of rural women. By actively focusing attention on the discrimination rural women face daily, FAO supports government efforts to ensure that their policies and programmes promote and support women as equal contributors to agriculture and rural development.” [FAO]


IFAD’s gender perspective

“In its operations, IFAD aims to: expand women’s access to and control over fundamental assets – capital, land, knowledge and technologies; strengthen women’s agency – their decision-making role in community affairs and representation in local institutions; and improve well-being and ease workloads by facilitating access to basic rural services and infrastructures. IFAD’s action is guided by the principle that development initiatives should incorporate the priorities and needs of both women and men and give them equal opportunities to access benefits and services. In this way, IFAD seeks to address the structural inequalities that prevent women from realizing their potential as human beings, producers and agents of change in the fight against poverty.” [IFAD]


Lack of comprehensive data

Although all international conferences have highlighted the need for accessible information and data as a starting point for any programme for the advancement of women – from the First World Conference in Mexico in 1975 to the Fourth World Conference in Beijing in 1995, according to FAO nearly all countries face constraints in producing and using gender data and statistics. These include:


[Gender-Disaggregated Data for Agriculture and Rural Development: An FAO Guide]


The FAO also found that out of a sample of 93 national agricultural censuses conducted worldwide from 1989 to 1999, only 53 contained information on female-headed holdings. [FAO-WFS]

See also

Related Categories

Article Information
Navigation
community
Print/export
Toolbox
Wikiprogress Wikichild Wikigender University Wikiprogress.Stat ProgBlog Latin America Network African Network eFrame