Egyptian policymakers discussed the provision of decent work for rural women


women and men in Saiss, Morocco, were assessed for gender wage gaps and working conditions



women farmers received training on entrepreneurship, barley production, and the development of feed blocks

As the role of women in agriculture increases across dry areas ICARDA works with our partners to close gender gaps. Our efforts last year helped to better understand women's access to land, water, seeds, financial credit, and knowledge.

Across dry areas rural women face a triple work burden: agricultural production, the rearing of children, and household duties such as food preparation and the collection of fuel and water. Women also tend to be over-represented in unpaid, seasonal, and part-time work, and are often paid less than men for the same work.

ICARDA promotes the needs, and raises the aspirations, of women, working alongside them to address inequality. We help to foster informed policy dialogue, and through training and technical assistance provide tools and expertise so that rural women can lead more fulfilling and productive lives.

Last year, ICARDA encouraged women in rural areas of Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, India, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, and Nigeria to adopt entrepreneurial activities for high-value commodities. We also developed enabling policies for gender equity in agricultural development, and improved women's exposure to innovations and new practices. In addition, our activities enhanced access to extension, veterinary, and other agricultural service delivery systems.


Assessing the situation of women workers in rural Egypt

An empirical study conducted jointly by ICARDA and FAO on the work of women and empowerment in rural Egypt generated evidence on gender disparities in rural employment. The study found that women had limited access to productive resources and services, faced challenges in rural labor markets, and were often excluded from decision-making within their communities. Subsequent recommendations included the need for corrective measures in the wage sector – addressing late payments, reduced payments, and the gender wage gap – and improving access to decent employment opportunities to generate gains in food security, poverty reduction, and economic growth. A policy dialogue was initiated with over 40 policymakers to discuss the lack of decent work opportunities for different categories of women and men workers in rural areas.

Targeting wage gaps and adverse working conditions in Morocco

A study last year documented wages and working conditions for landless female and male agricultural laborers in Morocco, analyzing workers from a range of locations, age groups, and working arrangements (part time, full time, small farms, and large farms). The study found that higher-paid, equipment-intensive activities were predominantly assigned to men, whereas women often performed lower-paid, time-intensive work. Women were also systematically paid less than men even when they performed the same tasks.

Additional findings revealed that young men were more likely than young women to leave school and work in the wage sector, and deeply entrenched gender ideologies in Morocco and elsewhere require men to provide for their families. The study highlighted the importance of paying research and policy attention to issues of gendered vulnerability for both women and men, and the need to enforce existing legislation in Morocco to ensure equal pay for women.

Supporting entrepreneurial and innovation skills

An initiative focused on the improvement of rural extension services for smallholder livestock producers in Tunisia – "Mind the Gap" – offered business training for rural women to enhance their entrepreneurial skills. Some 174 women benefited in 2017, receiving training tailored to their specific needs. The initiative contrasts and compares the effectiveness and outcomes of different extension methods, and researchers are now analyzing the impacts of the women-focused business training on empowerment, food security, and nutrition outcomes. Findings will feed into new pastoral policy reforms in Tunisia, highlighting the important role that women play in the country's livestock sector.