Women do most of the farming

Women do most of the farming in developing countries, but they don’t own the means of production. The Guardian reports on a UN FAO report.

In many households men control the production and marketing of crops as well as household finances. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that if women had the same access to these resources as men they could increase agricultural yields by 20-30%, enough to lift between 100 and 150 million people out of hunger.

Our report, Women’s empowerment pathways: roadblocks and successes found we need to consider the following points.

Context-specific action plans

In order to empower women economically, the underlying causes of income inequalities must be addressed. Due to the immense variation between culture, religion, and infrastructure which can exist even in areas only a few miles apart, strategies to empower women farmers cannot be one size fits all. Implementation must be informed by country-level, context and culturally-specific assessments to determine the needs of women farmers on a community, regional and country level in order to tailor approaches which will address underlying causes of inequality while ensuring women’s wellbeing. This should be informed by a broader gender strategy which establishes long-term goals and guides the intervention.

It often amazes me what a lot of plain waste there is in gender arrangements.


  1. Hj Hornbeck says

    Ah, that reminds me of the work of Gary Becker. He applied the logic of supply and demand to employer-employee relations, and surmised that increased competition for minorities would result in less discrimination against them, as employees would subconsciously leverage the demand for them. It’s been tested and found accurate many times since he came up with it in the 1950’s.

    Similar reasoning argues that discrimination increases in times and places of plenty; if the minimal you need to survive is easy to grab, then you don’t care to make the process as efficient as possible. If you’re on the edge of survival, however, every calorie counts and you must optimize. There are some anecdotes to support this; Japan used to be an economic powerhouse, thanks to shrewd infrastructure and economic decisions, which allowed sexism to reach obscene levels. Now that the bubble has burst attitudes are changing, like via “grass-eating boys” and “meat-eating girls” who reject tradition and are more passive/active than their parents were.

  2. Konradius says

    That isn’t waste for the men ‘earning’ the maximum amount of money for the minimum amount of work…

    Seriously. The biggest holocaust going on at the moment is not (even) Gaza, it’s the position of women in very large areas of the world. It is often enforced with religion, but certainly not always and when it’s religion it’s also not always Islam…

  3. Konradius says

    Oops, I put a tag before that first sentence as ’emotionless sarcasm’, but of course the posting software tried to process it as an actual tag…

  4. says

    As Konradius points out, if the incentive structure for the individuals within the system doesn’t point to fair treatment for everyone, you’re not going to get fair treatment unless you can figure out a way of coordinating to enforce it.

    I’m going to go ahead and link to Slate Star Codex here. He says a fair bit of stuff that I’m sure Ophelia would disagree with (and that I would also disagree with), but Meditations on Moloch is a damn good metaphor for explaining the waste generated by this sort of phenomenon.

  5. Hj Hornbeck says

    David Hart @4:

    As Konradius points out, if the incentive structure for the individuals within the system doesn’t point to fair treatment for everyone, you’re not going to get fair treatment unless you can figure out a way of coordinating to enforce it.

    Even then it may not matter, if we inherently view women as “lesser.” As Barbara Bergmann points out:

    Economists make a professional practice of ignoring the fact that people, even those with above-average rational abilities, may have stereotyped attitudes about women, may have false beliefs about women’s abilities, may be influenced by tradition or religion, or may be proud of having been born with the superior status of a male, a status they may desire to protect. [In contrast] The rational beings posited by economic theorists are burdened by none of this sexist baggage and are assumed not to undergo the cost and bother of paying attention to irrelevant considerations in deciding whom to hire or buy from or sell to

    If you think women are “lesser,” and the cost of treating them “lesser” does not cut into the bare necessities of either you nor them, you’ll just keep on treating them as “lesser.” As a bonus, your inbuilt pattern matching routines will invent some justification for that treatment so you can sleep at night (thanks, evolution!).

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