Achieving Gender Equality in Agriculture

Maza Wanawake Kwanza Growers Association
The twelve members of the Wanawake Kwanza (Women First) growers association in Maza village, Morogoro, Tanzania, have received Feed the Future support through USAID to boost their incomes and improve nutrition in the village.

Women play a vital role in advancing agricultural development and food security. 

They participate in all aspects of rural life—they constitute 43 percent of the agricultural workforce, tend to crops and animals, collect water and wood for fuel, and care for family members.  But women face many constraints that limit their contributions and productivity.

Relative to men, women tend to own less land, have limited ability to hire labor, and have impeded access to credit, extension, and other services.

To better empower women agricultural producers to reach this potential, through the Feed the Future Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, USAID:

  • Promotes women’s leadership in agriculture.
  • Fosters policy changes that increase women’s access to land and other assets.
  • Strengthens women's access to financial and extension services. 

Female farmers are encouraged to adopt new agricultural technologies to increase their productivity.  USAID created a $5 million fund to solicit innovative and bold interventions to achieve these objectives.

A core premise of Feed the Future is that empowering women in agriculture both reduces poverty and promotes global stability.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with the same access to productive resources as men, women could increase farm yields 20-30%, which could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million people.  Closing the productive resources gender gap also benefits society as a whole. 

Studies show that women are more likely than men to spend their money on their family’s nutritional needs, healthcare, and school fees for children.  The benefits of increased productivity and income have the potential to amplify across families and generations.

Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment is critical to the success of these development goals. The initiative has developed the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index to measure the impact of our investments by tracking data on women’s and men’s roles and engagement in:

  • Decisions over agricultural production
  • Access to and decision making power over productive resources
  • Control over use of income
  • Leadership roles within the community
  • Time use

Results from the index will help transform our ability to create the most effective and sustainable solutions to help women and their families attain long term economic security and contribute to a more stable world.

Learn More

Infographic: The Global State of Agriculture [PDF, 299K]

Feed the Future website

Women's Empowerment in Agriculture fact sheet

In this Feed the Future video, narrator Matt Damon discusses the importance of increasing food production around the world and notes the importance of equipping women with the right tools, training, and  technology to see as much as a 30 percent increase in food production. To feed our growing population we need to increase food production by 70 percent before 2050. Women make up the majority of the agricultural workforce in many areas of the world.

Last updated: July 24, 2015

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