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.


    Steve Baragona

    Steve Baragona is an award-winning multimedia journalist covering science, environment and health.

    He spent eight years in molecular biology and infectious disease research before deciding that writing about science was more fun than doing it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a master’s degree in journalism in 2002.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora