“Women’s empowerment leads to improved agricultural productivity”

By Davis Mulenga | 9 March 2018
productivity; women
Photo: Usaid.gov

Empowering women leads to more progressive farmers and greater economic and social opportunities for households in low-income nations, according to a study conducted by Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

“The study was not only able to directly link empowerment with agricultural and household decision-making, but the ability for empowered women to influence the decision to purchase varieties of seed that would lead to higher yield, increasing household income,” said Sonia Akter, Lead Researcher and Assistant Dean at the university.

Akter told Devex that evidence existed of better agricultural and farming technology adoption coupled by higher rice yields among women farmers in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Her study sampled women in 12 000 farming households in the 5 countries using a scale of 0 to 100 based on 5 domains associated with the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index — production, income, resources, time, and leadership.

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Across the countries, there were common patterns in dividing the labour of men and women. Men were primarily responsible for tasks including seedbed and land preparation, fertiliser spraying and pesticide application. Shared tasks included transplanting, weeding, and manual harvesting. However, women were commonly and solely responsible for the preparation of food for hired laborers.

Telling, empowered women, defined as having greater involvement in decision making, had access to more information, including technology, enabling them to make more informed decisions to adopt high yield varieties with better economic outcomes.

“By increasing productivity, market participation, and household income, there are additional flow-on effects to the household. The households could access food with better nutrition. If we go back to where we started with women’s empowerment, then we do see a very important impact on food security,” Akter said.