Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

If We Invest in Women, They Can Feed the World

March 08, 2012

This post is part of our coverage on International Women’s Day 2012. We'll be sharing perspectives from around the world on how we can all work together to empower women and girls.

A breakthrough year with a new global agenda

The importance of highlighting rural women throughout the developing world, and their role in farming, is an exciting and critical message as we celebrate International Women’s Day. This year, those of us supporting rural women in agricultural development were given an extraordinary gift in the form of a focused and data-rich global agenda for women’s empowerment in agriculture.

Initiated by two documents, the 2012 World Development Report and the State of Food and Agriculture Report, and supported by groundbreaking new evidence, this global call to action focuses attention on key disparities in access to and use of agricultural resources (tools, land, and even knowledge) between poor women and men farmers. These reports offer a look at just how much more can be grown — and grown more effectively — if the “gender gaps” between women and men farmers were closed.

This new global agenda, with a focus on the gender gap, unites everyone from global donors to Agricultural Ministers to non-profit organizations. We all have concrete roles to play to ensure women farmers are able to access the tools they need to feed their families.

Getting the message out to get on board

As a result of this new agenda, stakeholders are finding new, innovative, and persuasive methods to get the message out.

Last week, Farming First launched a beautiful visual on the “Female Face of Farming.” USAID recently launched a powerful new Gender Policy which aims, in part, to “reduce gender disparities in access to, control over, and benefit from resources, wealth, opportunities, and services” across USAID initiatives.

At the foundation, we’re also proud to launch a new interactive infographic (click on the image below to launch) showing how investing in women farmers can help feed the world.  

Explore a poor woman’s farm and the different types of resources — labor, land, tools, and time — she must use in order to feed her family. Find solutions that increase her use of these tools and the resultant “yield” when her productivity increases.  

We’re proud to be a member of a growing and dedicated coalition contributing to this global agenda to empower rural women in developing countries. And this International Women’s Day, we’re also proud to help to get the word out. We hope you will too. 

Women In Agriculture

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