The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, focuses on women and their vital – but often underestimated – roles within rural economies. Important messages include:
- Women make essential contributions to agriculture but their roles differ significantly by region and are changing rapidly in some areas.
- Women have one thing in common across regions: they have less access than men to productive resources and opportunities. There is a gender gap for many assets, inputs and services such as land, livestock, labour, education, extension, financial services and technology. This imposes costs on the agriculture sector, the broader economy and society, as well as on the women themselves.
- Closing this gender gap would generate significant gains for the agriculture sector and for society. If women had equal access to productive resources, yields on their farms would increase by 20 to 30 percent. This could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 percent, which could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent.
- When women control additional income, they spend more of it than men do on food, health, clothing and educating their children. This has clear benefits for household food security and wellbeing and for longer term economic growth through better health, nutrition and education outcomes.