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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid