Men and women planting vegetables together in Senegal. In sub-Saharan Africa only 15 per cent of land-owners are women.
Photo: B. Schurian/KfW

16.06.2014

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Despite the crucial role of women in family farms and small-scale agriculture, gender inequality is still present in many ways – jeopardising the food and nutrition security of millions of people.

Family farming by definition is a means of organising agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production. It is managed and operated by a family and is predominantly reliant on non-wage family labour, provided by women, men and children working together on the family’s farm. In this concept, the family and the farm are closely linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, reproductive, social and cultural functions. In most of Africa and South Asia, small farms run by the family still account for the largest share of agricultural output.

The role of women in these smallholder agricultural systems is particularly remarkable as they provide the bulk of the agricultural labour force. They mainly produce food for household consumption and local markets, whereas men work more often in wage labour or cash crop production. Despite this vital role of women in small-scale agriculture, gender inequality is still present in many ways. Women, for example, have less access to productive resources, services and assets, and their vital contribution to the family farm is often still ignored.

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