Status of Women in Agri-Food systems

 

Status of Women in Agri-Food systems
 

News: Recently, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) has released a report titled- “The Status of Women In Agrifood Systems” highlighting the importance of Gender Equality in the Agricultural Sector which can help reduce hunger, boost economy and fight adversity of climate change.
 

Background:

→ It is the first of its kind since 2010 (State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2010–11: Women in Agriculture – Closing the gender gap for development).

→ It goes beyond agriculture to provide a comprehensive picture of the status of women working across agrifood systems.
 

Key Findings:

→ Women account for 40% of global agricultural labor force but face gender-based barriers that limit their access to resources.

→ Despite the importance of agri-food systems for women’s livelihoods and the welfare of their families, women’s roles tend to be marginalised and their working conditions are likely to be worse than men’s — irregular, informal, part-time, low-skilled, labor-intensive and thus vulnerable.

→ Women and girls face barriers and constraints that men and boys do not as a consequence of rigid gender norms and roles, unequal power dynamics and discriminatory social structures. These impediments to women’s progress are compounded by the additional challenges posed by Climate, economic and price shocks, conflicts and the increasing risks of Gender-Based Violence.

→ Even though women have gained more access to some resources (digital technology, financial services), gaps are either unchanged or growing especially for rural women. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the gap between women’s and men’s food security has grown to 4.3%.
 

Key recommendations:

→ Closing the gender gap in agri-food systems could increase agricultural productivity by up to 4% in developing countries, this will in turn increase GDP and result in poverty alleviation, improve food security.

→ Women need more access to and control over the livestock, water, seeds, land, technology, and finance.

→ Eliminating discrimination by engaging with men and boys.

→ Gender equality in agri-food systems is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2, which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

→ It is important to achieve SDG 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
 

Some India-specific findings:

→ Female participation in the labour force is low (1 in 5 women are working or looking for a job) but labourforce participation is relatively high among the poorest women, who depend on agriculture.

→ The female share of agrifood-system workers decreased by one percentage point between 2005 and 2019.

→ A 10% increase in mechanized tilling between 1999 and 2011 led to a 5% reduction in women’s farm labour with no increase in off-farm work because of limited off-farm opportunities for women.

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