At a time when the role of women in dry area agriculture is increasing, and their workload is becoming heavier with the migration of men to urban areas, ICARDA explores the implications of gender gaps on gender-equitable and demand-driven development, identifying transformative ways to increase women’s production, food security, and incomes.
We prioritize enhanced access to land, water, seeds, credit, knowledge, and innovation, and empower women through capacity development - facilitating their role as leaders and active agents of change, and helping them to engage in more lucrative economic activities through agricultural diversification, intensification, and value-addition.
ICARDA also advocates for improvements in wages and working conditions, and the eradication of gender-based inequality; investigates promising formal/informal institutional arrangements that enhance women’s voice and power in dry area communities; and promotes proven technologies that reduce the drudgery of agricultural work.
Youth are an additional target group because they too represent a large disenfranchised group which faces high levels of unemployment. With tremendous capacity to innovate and engage meaningfully and lucratively in the agricultural sector, ICARDA explores ways to empower and attract youth into agriculture, with a specific focus on service provision in the value chains of key commodities.
The feminization of agriculture
Women play a crucial and increasingly important role in food production. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) they now represent 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force – a share that has increased significantly since 1980. In many places women run farms in addition to managing the family year-round, while their husbands seek gainful employment elsewhere. Women are therefore increasingly becoming de facto household heads in many dryland agricultural production systems.