The role of women in agriculture

Paola E. Haiat
March 8, 2021

In the book, The Second Sex, written by Simone de Beauvoir, she explains through Engels' historical materialism that in the most primitive division of labor both sexes contributed to a household equally. While the man had to go out hunting, the household chores, as well as agriculture, were the task of the women. Consequently, both parties contributed to the household economy.

Historically, there have been many events that have marked the role of women in agriculture. However, today agriculture has been relegated to a male role, according to the latest statistics collected by Eurostat in 2016. The numbers show that in the European Union there is a significant minority of women, being 28% compared to 72% men.

The countries with the highest proportion of women in these areas are Latvia and Lithuania, where women comprise almost half of the agricultural population with 45%, compared to the staggering figures in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Malta or the Netherlands where they have a percentage of 10%, 8%, 6%, and 5% respectively.

Moreover, this gap could increase in the coming years, since only 4.9% of the total number of women are under 35 years of age and 40% are over 65 years of age.

 

What can be done to encourage women's participation in agriculture?

Since much of thewomen’s role in agriculture is centered in rural regions and on an unpaidbasis, FAO proposes to reduce the gap:

1. Eliminate discrimination from the legal order: each country has the responsibility to look at the laws and how they are regulated in terms of land ownership, family, and marital benefits, allowing women to claim their right to land.

2. Train women on their land rights: an improvement in legal literacy among women. Thus, officials in charge of land-related programs should train men and women on their rights, in addition to instructing them on gender equity issues.

3. Take a look at the role of women in the family: many of the agricultural jobs performed by women are not recognized or remunerated since they are accompanied by child-rearingand household management. A balance must be sought between reproduction and their role in production.

4. Instruct women in finance: this would allow them to better understand how to trade, encouraging them to obtain an economic benefit from their work.

5. Encourage the use of technology: from a cell phone to management systems to improve communications for trading and to perform their agricultural tasks optimally.

Promoting the active role of women in agriculture is part of the plan of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Derived from this, programs to support agriculture and the initiation of young women in agriculture are being encouraged.

Equity of roles in agriculture; there is still work to be done, but ensuring that opportunities are available regardless of context or geographic location will allow more food to be produced, hunger to be satiated in many parts of the world, to have asupply of products and, above all, to have women workers owning their work.

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