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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
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.

AppleAndroid