Women are always considered the backbone of the development of any economy. In rural areas, they play a great role in food security and constitute more than 75% of the workforce. In Africa, 80% of the agricultural production comes from small farmers, who are mostly rural women.
Although women play a greater role in farming at a global level, the worrying fact is that men still own the land and control women labors. Women do the most tiresome work and back-breaking tasks in agriculture, but their hard work has mostly been paid low. Nevertheless, their contribution ensures food security for the nations.
To enlighten our readers on the invisible contribution by women in agriculture, here are a collocation of facts on women’s role in food security–
• In India, in overall farm production, women’s average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66%. In the Indian Himalayas, a pair of bullocks works 1064 hours, a man 1212 hours and a woman 3485 hours in a year on a one-hectare farm, a figure that illustrates women’s significant contribution to agricultural production. (Shiva FAO, 1991) [NCW] • In the EU, agriculture is the seventh largest employer of women (3%). However, in Greece, about 38% women (of all family workers in agriculture) are employed in agriculture. In Portugal, over 50% of the agricultural workforce is female. [EASHW] • Throughout the South Asian region, women account for about 39 percent of the agricultural workforce, working as managers of lands to agricultural labourers. [IFPRI] • Women provide one half of the labour in rice cultivation in India (Unnevehr and Stanford, 1986). In the plantation sector, women are the crucial labourers (Shivaram, 1988). In rural India, agriculture and allied industrial sectors employ as much as 89.5% of the total female labour. [FAO] • In China, women constitute about 70 percent of the agricultural labor force and perform more than 70 percent of farm work. [AGNET/UNIFEM] A programme which can aim at economic mainstreaming of rural women including the ultra-poor by enabling them to earn independent incomes needs to be promoted by the Governments across the world. This will help rural women with the potential to grow into successful and profitable independent enterprises in the future. Enabling women to earn independent sustainable incomes has a positive impact on their families and communities as it is spent largely on their children’s education, health, and nutrition and is a powerful catalyst for gender development and supporting social inclusion.
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