Women’s Participation Could Lower Costs

A recent UN report on global hunger has led many to question gender divisions in international agriculture. The report, which claims that world hunger is rising and a greater percent of the global population currently subsists on a smaller portion of world resources, advocated several solutions to world hunger, including small-scale farming. A concerted effort to expand women’s access to agricultural resources, however, would also play a significant role in reducing world hunger.

While women’s roles in agriculture in developing nations varies from country to country, they typically make up less than 50% of most developing country’s agricultural workforce, and even as little as 20% in some countries. This is not a unique story of developing nations either. Recent lawsuits have been filed against the USDA for gender discrimination in the distribution of farm loans and agricultural benefits. The USDA is currently in the process of settling those lawsuits.

Many believe that increasing women’s access to agricultural inputs (such as increased access to land purchases, agricultural loans and capital, fuel, fertilizer, seeds, and other agricultural resources) would greatly reduce global food production and could greatly decrease world hunger over the next few decades. The U.S. government has taken an interest in increasing women’s participation in agriculture. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made women’s roles in agriculture an important part of her January 2010 Center for Global Development speech. The State Department has also funded international grants for women agricultural scientists.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer