Women in agriculture: Four myths
This article (PDF) in the journal Global Food Security analyzes four gender myths about women, agriculture, and the environment persist. 1) Women account for 70% of the world’s poor. The main justification is the alleged predominance of poor, female-headed households, but it is not based on individual level data or analysis. 2) Women produce 60 to 80% of the world’s food. The kernel of truth in this myth is that women are important for food security. However, the challenge is how to attribute a share of the food that is produced to women as most smallholder production relies on the labor of both men and women. 3) Women own 1% of the world’s land. The myth embodies the truth that both the legal systems and patriarchal gender norms may prohibit or make it difficult for women to acquire and retain land. When trying to establish the numbers behind this myth, two challenges emerge: what we mean by ownership, formal land ownership amongst women is low, but so is it for men; and how to handle land that is jointly owned by a man and a woman. 4) Women are better stewards of the environment. The problems with this myth are that it relies on a selective reading of the evidence and it treats women as a homogenous group and simplifies the relationship between women and nature. To develop effective policies to promote food security, it is necessary to have appropriate data on women’s and men’s roles in food production and natural resource management and the gendered constraints that they face.