News / Africa

Closing Gender Gap Could Boost World Food Supply

Studies show when women have financial resources, they are more likely than men to spend them on food, health and educating their children.
Studies show when women have financial resources, they are more likely than men to spend them on food, health and educating their children.

Multimedia

Audio

Food prices continue to rise, threatening to push more and more people into poverty and hunger. A new report from the UN food agency says one of the best ways to boost agricultural productivity worldwide would be to remove the barriers women farmers face that their male counterparts do not.

Women farmers tend to be less productive than men, but there are good reasons for that, says Agnes Quisumbing, an economist with the International Food Policy Research Institute.

"If you actually look closer and look at the resources that women farmers are bringing to their plots, they're actually starting off with much less," she says.

The new FAO report finds that while women make up 43 percent of the world's farmers, only about 10 to 20 percent own the land they farm. Without land for collateral, it is harder for them to get credit to buy inputs such as better seeds and fertilizers. In many countries, women are half as likely as men to use fertilizers to increase yields.

In addition, many of the world's women are raising their children at the same time they're farming, which also may help explain why their productivity is lower than men's.

"Helping women farmers have the same access to inputs and control of resources that male farmers have would really do a lot toward improving agriculture productivity and reducing hunger and malnutrition," says Quisumbing.

According to the FAO report, closing the gender gap could increase agricultural output in the developing world by as much as four percent, which in turn could reduce the number of undernourished people by as much as 17 percent.

Quisumbing was a collaborator on the FAO report. She says rather than playing for sympathy, the report makes the business case for focusing on women farmers.

"We hear a lot about how women are disadvantaged. And they tend to be very bleeding-heart arguments. But bleeding-heart arguments don't necessarily tell heads of state to move their money."

The new FAO report finds that while women make up 43 percent of the world's farmers, only about 10 to 20 percent own the land they farm.
The new FAO report finds that while women make up 43 percent of the world's farmers, only about 10 to 20 percent own the land they farm.

Quisumbing says governments would be wise to back programs which help close the gap for women farmers - for example, vouchers that help them buy better seeds and fertilizers.

But beyond financial support, she adds, in many countries the policy environment needs to change, too. "I think it's about time governments come on board and really look at their laws, which discriminate against women in the area of property, in the area of labor force participation, in the area of marriage law."

Quisumbing believes leveling the playing field has wider benefits beyond the women themselves. That's because studies show when women have financial resources, they are more likely than men to spend them on food, health and educating their children. And that means a better future for the next generation.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid