Women and Agriculture


The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has revealed that if women in rural areas of the planet had the same access to the land, technology, financial services, markets and education as men do, the number of hungry people would have been reduced in nearly 150 million.

Statistics show that the output of the land controlled by women is less than men in the world. However, this does not mean they are worse; women’s access to resources is not the same as men’s.

Cuba, for example, has 1 million 309 thousand 548 women (43.3 percent of the population) living in rural areas.  Many of them use the land, utilize different types of agricultural cooperatives or work in state entities.  There is enough work in which, in certain productions, women are superior to men.

FAO General Director Jacque Diouf has demanded for gender equality in this economically active sector because “it is also crucial for agricultural development and food security (…) We must promote gender equality in favor of sustainability and against hunger and extreme poverty.”

According to statistics, if women had the same access as men in agriculture, the exploitation of the land could increase from 20 to 30 percent and the agricultural production of the economy could hike between 2.5 to 4 percent.

It is believed that this would make it possible to cut between 12 to 17 percent the number of hungry people in the planet (some 150 million people).  It is believed that there are 925 million malnourished people, according to UN statistics reported at the end of 2010.

“We must eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and assure that access to resources is equitable (…). They must be seen as equals to sustainable development”, said Diouf.

Women represent 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in the developing nations: from 20 percent in Latin America to almost 50 in eastern Asia and Southeastern Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.

FAO studies reveal that when a rural woman is employed they tend to receive worse jobs and frequently less stable employment like temporary labor and in the majority of the cases lower salaries.

In any region of the world women has less access to the land that their male counterparts. In developing countries the percentage of women in the context of agricultural labor force are between 20 to 50 percent.

In Cuba’s case, there are just policies that promote gender equality in particular in the agricultural sector and other vital sectors of the country’s economy.

From the Cuban News Agency/Photo: The UN reports that women represent 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in the developing nations. (McKaySavage/cc by 2.0/Flickr)

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