Our food systems face unprecedented challenges, from increasingly unpredictable weather to acute biodiversity loss. To feed a population of over 9.6 billion people in 2050, the agricultural sector must transform and become more inclusive, efficient and sustainable.
To do this, it is imperative to address inequalities. The equal participation of women and men is needed to meet the burgeoning demand for more nutritious food, while sustaining our environment and addressing climate change.
In rural areas, women are at the core of food production and the conservation and use of plant diversity. Women smallholders are involved in the entire crop cycle: seed selection, planting, harvesting, processing and seed storage for the next season.
Within the rural household, women often determine which plant resources to conserve and use, which crop varieties to grow, and which food products to keep for consumption or to sell at local markets. Despite this huge contribution, these women often have limited access to and control over productive assets and resources. They also tend to have low decision-making power within the household and do not reap the full benefits of their work. Men generally control the income derived from agricultural production.
Closing this equality gap represents one of the most effective approaches to combating rural poverty, supporting women's productivity and adding value to food production. Empowerment of rural women involves raising awareness, building self-confidence, increasing access to natural resources and transforming the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender inequality.
Gender equity and social inclusion are a cross-cutting focus of all work areas in the Alliance.
In one of my research projects to improve child nutrition, I found that almost all of the main caregivers taking part in our trainings were female.
This made me reflect on why the role of childcare is mainly put on women, as well as the barriers that keep rural women at home and out of school.
Certainly there is a need for women’s empowerment in agriculture, especially in the field of nutrition research and work.