With increasing feminization of agriculture, support for women farmers is more critical than ever. At a gathering for International Women’s Day March 6 in Rome, world leaders in agriculture and development policy called attention to the importance of involving women farmers in efforts to improve global food security and nutrition. Representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) shared stories and findings from their work with women in agricultural development, highlighting successes in past initiatives as well as emphasizing the capacity for new innovations that empower women to reduce poverty and hunger in rural areas.
According to IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, ensuring support for women in agriculture is increasingly important as they continue to become a larger and larger segment of the agricultural labor force. In many countries, recent trends have seen men migrating to urban areas for higher-paying jobs, while women remain to take on greater and more diverse responsibilities in farming and other rural activities.
World food experts at the meeting agreed that while some progress has been achieved since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing – the 20th anniversary of which is being observed this year with a series of events including this one – rural women still lag far behind men and urban women in economic opportunities and access to resources and services. Scaling up successful programs and creating greater awareness of women’s importance in food and nutrition security are important to bring opportunities to greater numbers of rural women.