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Empowering Women

Women play a crucial role in the production of food. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), they represent 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force. This share also increased between 1980 and 2010 in many countries, suggesting a feminization of agriculture.

In many cases, women run farms in addition to managing the family year-round, while their husbands seek gainful employment living in other locations. Women are therefore the de facto household heads in many dryland agricultural production systems.

ICARDA invests special efforts to promote gender equity because:

  • Women make significant contributions to agricultural production, processing, marketing, and household food security and nutrition
  • Gender gaps in women’s access to resources, inputs and services mean that their work in agricultural value chains falls far short of their potential in terms of scale, productivity and output, entailing huge costs to their countries and households
  • Women’s triple work burden – much of which is manual and physically grueling – shapes their incentives and time available to adopt agricultural innovations. 

Gender inequality directly affects the likelihood of success in achieving development outcomes. ICARDA therefore includes gender in all aspects of its research programs to ensure that knowledge generated will have a positive and equitable impact on both women and men, and will not inadvertently disadvantage women or other vulnerable groups.

Including gender in our research portfolio also increases the potential for overall impact – leaving it out means that a significant part of the population is excluded.  

Targeted gender outcomes 

ICARDA targets a number of clearly-defined outcomes:

  • Encouraging rural women’s groups to adopt entrepreneurial activities for high-value commodities
  • Developing enabling policies for gender equity in agricultural technology and development
  • Increasing women’s access to new agriculture innovations, information, finance and other inputs and services to increase production and productivity
  • Increasing women’s access to markets and marketing information
  • Improving extension, veterinary and other agricultural service delivery systems, policies, and programs to explicitly reach women.

Recent gender activities include: