Friday, July 20, 2018 | ePaper

Women are key to fixing global food system

  • Print
Danielle Nierenberg and Emily Payne :
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, women make up about 43 percent of the agricultural labor force worldwide, and in some countries they make up 80 percent of all farmers. In addition to tending crops, most women-particularly in the Global South-are also responsible for seed saving, animal husbandry, grain processing, and other tasks related to growing food. This is in addition to cooking, cleaning, and taking care of sick elders and children.
It's women farmers who produce the food that families eat. While male farmers often focus on growing commodity crops like maize, rice, and soybeans, women raise the fruits, vegetables, and small livestock that nourish families each day.
But if women had the same access to resources as men, they could raise their current yields by 20 to 30 percent-this would lift as many as 150 million people out of hunger. So when considering the global food system crisis, women should be at the top of mind.
If women had the same access to resources as men, they could raise their current yields by 20 to 30 percent-this would lift as many as 150 million people out of hunger. So when considering the global food system crisis, women should be at the top of mind
Nourished Planet, a new book put forth by the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, highlights stories of success through women's efforts in agriculture throughout the world. Examples range from female PhD students from Jamaica developing workshops for small farmers on climate-adaptive irrigation strategies to women dairy farmers in Ghana starting a co-op to pay for their children's healthcare and education.
The book goes on to highlight that, across the globe, women often have little agency over their own lives. They often lack the same access to resources-such as land, banking and financial services, education, and extension services-as male farmers. And in many countries, women aren't allowed to own land or even inherit their land.
As farmers across the globe are aging, women need to be able to take their rightful role as leader of their land, farm, and family. The average age of the American farmer is 57 years old; in Africa, the average farmer is 60. When their husbands die, we need to ensure that the women of these households are able to maintain the land they have grown, cultivated, and lived on for often many generations.
Traditional power structures in the food system commonly ignore or undervalue the vital roles women play. Women need to be recognized for their part in feeding the world today, as well as empowered to grow their contributions into the future.
Across the globe, women are taking matters into their own hands by forming cooperatives and non-governmental organizations and innovating their way to a sustainable future.
The Women in Agriculture program in Nigeria is connecting women to vital extension services, and the Women Advancing Agriculture Initiative advocates for gender equality and access to information for women in Ghana. In America, the Women in Food & Ag Network is striving to create a global network to provide opportunities for education on economics and environment that promote a holistic view of agriculture.
Women farmers are letting governments, policymakers, and their own husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons know that we ignore women in the food system at our own peril.
A more economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and socially just food and agriculture system around the globe is within our reach. But it is an essential for farmers, eaters, businesses, policymakers, academics, funders, and anyone interested in contributing to a food system to value and support women to continue to grow our food, nourish our bodies and planet, and innovate to food system change.
(Danielle Nierenberg is Founder and President of Food Tank. Emily Payne is a food and agriculture writer based in New York).

More News For this Category

Take immediate steps to save Chattogram

A vast area of Chattogram is going under the tidal water almost regularly. The rise in sea level resists the release of water to rivers running to the sea. The

Wise men around the govt deliberately misinterpreting the judgement

THE government has been referring to a Supreme Court "order" on the reservation of 30 percent quota for the children of freedom fighters for the last few days, arguing that

Govt servants are public servants, not masters

Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :Government servants are a group of organized public servants employed for the overall administration of government. The first and foremost duty of govt. servant is to

Disaster preparedness makes difference in a flood

Rayhan Ahmed Topader :Bangladesh is one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change and natural disasters, with over six percent of the population affected by disasters each year.

Readers’ Forum

Environmental resources are not infiniteEnvironmental resources can be defined as elements of the human environment and include both natural and built resources. Three major categories of resources are socioeconomic, cultural

Providing Bangladeshi passports to Rohingya people

 An international syndicate has been formed to send Rohingya labourers to different South, Southeast and Middle Eastern countries. Newspapers reports said the local part of this syndicate includes some public

Public money and gold are not safe, it is a national disgrace

Bangladesh Bank on Tuesday refuted the allegation that one of the gold bars kept in its highly secured vault by the customs department was adulterated. Following a report published by

Bangladesh: Vision of a child friendly country

N.S.M. Muzzammel Huq :Bangladesh entered into the path of a developing nation with ultimate goal of achieving the status of a developed nation by 2041. In this process we have

Forests, marine resources shrinking worldwide

Maged Srour :Deforestation and unsustainable farming are depriving the planet of forests, while destructive practices in fishing are limiting the chance to sustainably manage our oceans.According to United Nations estimates,

A gender-specific approach to counter terrorism

Carmen Arroyo :Understanding the different way that terrorists target women and how to prevent their recruitment could play a significant role in counter-terrorism efforts, and is gaining increased recognition among