Tuesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD). The theme, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality,” addresses the continuing injustices faced by women across the globe.
Women farmers’ yields, for example, are often 20–30 percent lower than for men’s because of a lack of access to banking, financial services, and inputs. But filling this gap—and helping women get the same resources as male farmers—could lift 100–150 million people out of hunger worldwide.
“Women are the priority. The majority of smallholder farmers in Africa are women and, in urban areas, you’re primarily looking at women-led households. So we can’t solve hunger if we don’t have gender-sensitive programming that addresses access to opportunities for women, whether it’s through education or tools for cooking, like solar-powered stoves,” says Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme.
Vicky Rateau, Campaign Manager at Oxfam America, echoes this, stating, “We must reform our global food system by addressing climate change, land grabs, and supporting smallholder farmers. And [that] starts with supporting women producers.”
Food Tank, CARE International, and the CGIAR Research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security recently released a report that shows how inequality determines who eats first and who eats worst, as well as how this shapes people’s ability to adapt to climate change. The report suggests that solutions around food production are not enough, and it demands more dialogue and action to address inequality in food systems.
There are many inspirational organizations working to advance this dialogue, amplify women’s voices, and support women farmers around the world. Here’s how some of these amazing groups are advocating for equality in agriculture:
– To celebrate IWD 2016, CARE International is capturing photos of courage to draw attention to the ongoing struggle for equality.
– FarmHer, an online community specifically for women in agriculture, will launch GROW—a series of inspirational and informational events designed for the next generation of female farmers—this fall.
– Farming First, a global coalition for sustainable agricultural development, highlights the “female face of farming” and continues to advocate for policies that advance gender equality in agriculture.
– Through The Female Farmer Project, photographer, writer, and cook Audra Mulkern chronicles the rise of women working in agriculture around the world.
– Female Food Heroes is a popular reality TV show that features a group of female farmers in Tanzania. An Oxfam initiative, the show aims to change the social attitude toward women in agriculture while empowering the female growers.
– On March 18, Landesa will celebrate International Women’s Day by hosting their annual Seed the Change luncheon.
– Navdanya, founded by Dr. Vandana Shiva, is a women-centered movement for the protection of biological and cultural diversity. They are currently campaigning to save Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel and ghani, an indigenous cold press oil mill, which the government has threatened to shut down.
– One Acre Fund provides smallholder farmers with the support they need to “grow their way out of hunger and poverty.” Their comprehensive model continues to help rural women around the world improve crop productivity and increase household income.
– Oxfam America is helping women worldwide celebrate International Women’s Day with their eCards that recognize inspirational female leaders.
– The United Nations will acknowledge IWD 2016 by holding a conference to reflect on women’s empowerment and ways to accelerate the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
– Recognizing the return on investing in rural women, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) continues to ensure fair representation of females in their Farmer Field Schools and Facilitator Training.
– Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & Natural Resource Management (WOCAN) continues to empower women with the knowledge, resources, and tools necessary to scale up solutions to climate change, food security, and poverty. Keep an eye out for their The W+ Standard, a unique certification label that “provides metrics to measure women’s empowerment within existing and new projects.”
– Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN), a powerful community of female growers, links and empowers women to build food systems that are fair, sustainable, and healthy. Women Caring for the Land, an initiative of WFAN, serves female landowners who are interested in learning more about conservation.
– The World Food Programme is providing school meals and putting women in charge of food distribution.
– Through education, advocacy, and lobbying, Women on Farms strengthens the capacity of female farmers and develops leadership skills in young women throughout South Africa.
(Danielle Nierenberg is President, Food Tank)