Transforming Food Systems: Empowering Women to Deliver on Food Security and Nutrition

10 Oct 2013

The spotlight is on improving agricultural performance to deliver both, food security and nutritional outcomes. Achieving these requires transformative change to ensure gender equity, empower women and address their needs in food systems. 

Organizers: Gender in Agriculture Partnership, Global Forum on Agricultural Research, FAO, WFP, World Farmers' Organisation,  MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, World Bank, Global Donor Platform for Rural development and SecureNutrition.

Date: 10 October 2013, FAO Headquarters, Rome

The role of women in agriculture is fundamental to achieving food security and nutrition goals. Women make up 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, from about 20 percent in the Americas to almost 50 percent in East and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. While their specific roles vary across regions, everywhere, women face constraints that limit their capacity to contribute to agricultural production.

Women farmers are responsible for their family’s food security and nutrition. Food security and nutrition goals are achievable only if women’s position in the value chain is strengthened and their livelihoods improved.
Therefore, an inclusive and holistic approach to investing in women is needed to increase their confidence, access to knowledge and adequate innovations to allow them to engage in sustainable agricultural practices, on equal footing with their male counterparts.
In order to have sustainable food systems, there must be increased investments in women in agriculture and a strengthened focus on women in agriculture development policies.

Despite their key role in agriculture, women still do not have the same access as men to assets, inputs and services i.e. seed, fertilizers, land, credit, training, innovation. These are key elements that limit agricultural productivity, hindering the achievement of broader economic and social goals.

FAO estimated that closing the gender gap in the agricultural sector would increase the production of women and significantly reduce the number of hungry people in the world. Also, the productivity gains from ensuring women’s equal access to fertilizer, seeds and tools, could raise the total agricultural output in developing countries by an estimated 2.5-4%, thereby reducing the number of hungry people by between 100 and 150 million.