News / Africa

US Aims to Empower World's Women Farmers

Experts identify ways to measure female agricultural empowerment

Women farmers in Bangladesh have learned they play an important role that ensures food security for their families.
Women farmers in Bangladesh have learned they play an important role that ensures food security for their families.

Multimedia

Audio

U.S. aid officials are launching a new way to measure whether their efforts to empower women farmers are working.



Women make up nearly half the agricultural workforce in sub-Saharan Africa and East and Southeast Asia, but women’s farm production tends to lag behind their male counterparts.

Women face a number of obstacles that men do not. They tend to own less land and have fewer rights to that land. They have less access to credit and training. And they have less input in decision-making.

With world population expected to grow by another two billion in the next four decades, maximizing food production is a key goal for everyone in the agricultural sector.

Women are key

Aid agencies including the U.S. Agency for International Development see women's empowerment as key to meeting that goal.

Farmer Celeste Sitoe raises maize and chickens in Lhate village, Mozambique.
Farmer Celeste Sitoe raises maize and chickens in Lhate village, Mozambique.

“Without addressing women, we cannot effectively and sustainably address global poverty and hunger,” says USAID Coordinator Tjada McKenna

To help evaluate their efforts to fight poverty and hunger, USAID called on experts at Oxford University and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to identify ways to measure women’s empowerment in agriculture.

The researchers looked at five areas: control over production, resources, and income; leadership in the community; and use of time. They compared the roles of women and men in the same household in these areas. And they did pilot studies in three very different countries: Guatemala, Bangladesh and Uganda.

Different in different countries

“What is actually quite interesting is that the areas of empowerment and disempowerment are quite different across the three countries,” says IFPRI Senior Research Fellow Agnes Quisumbing.

For example, in Bangladesh, researchers found the most significant factor for women was the lack of authority over resources such as land and livestock. In Guatemala, it was the lack of leadership in the community that was the biggest problem; while in Uganda, it was time burdens that proved the biggest barrier for women.

A female vendor, with her child looking on, offers produce at a roadside market in Ghana.
A female vendor, with her child looking on, offers produce at a roadside market in Ghana.

The research turned up a few surprises.

“Often, we assume that empowered women are wealthy and educated and vice versa. But we found a more complex story,” says Sabina Alkire, director of Oxford's Poverty and Human Development Initiative.

Alkire says in Guatemala, for example, three-quarters of the women in the highest wealth category were disempowered.

On the other hand, she adds, “In Bangladesh, completing primary school hardly made any difference to empowerment in comparison with women who had not been to school.”

Signal to policy-makers

One of the most powerful aspects of this new approach is its ability to identify in which areas women are most disadvantaged, says Agnes Quisumbing.

“And so it’s a very clear signal to policy [makers] that this is the area where they have to go in and where you might have the greatest return on your investment.”

USAID’s Tjeda McKenna says the agency will base its funding and programming efforts on seeing improvements in these areas.

“It very much is meant to be a practical tool for us to guide our implementation,” she says.

And the experts say it will be useful as well for others working to improve women’s involvement in agricultural  development.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid