Although women produce almost 50 per cent of food world-wide, only 10-20 per cent of them own land in most developing countries. Globally, too, investment on women farmers is quite low, says a new report by the Worldwatch Institute.

The report “Investing in Women Farmers”, by the Washington-based research organisation, says that in developing countries like India, women produce 60-80 per cent of food but own less than 2 per cent of land.

Various studies in South and West Asia have shown that women receive lower wages and are more likely to work part-time or seasonally than men in comparable jobs, regardless of similar levels of education and experience.

“Cultural norms and restrictive property or inheritance rights limit the types and amount of financial resources, land, or technology available to women”, say report authors, Mr Danielle Nierenberg and Ms Seyyada Burney.

The report quotes the Economist Intelligence Unit's newly developed Global Food Security Index, which shows that countries with more gender-sensitive business environments – based on labour policies, access to finance, and comparative levels of education and training - have more abundant, nutritious, and affordable food.

“This relationship provides evidence that when women have equal resources and opportunity, they can produce higher – and higher-quality-agricultural yields”, it says.

The report calls for altering national policies on governing assets, employment, and mobility to protect women's needs and interests.

“Improved property or inheritance rights must go hand in hand with supporting measures to ensure and develop women's capacities to use their land or agricultural assets”, it adds.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 1, 2012)
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