By Devon Ericksen
As the Worldwatch Institute celebrates women and youth in September, Nourishing the Planet highlights the many ways that women contribute to agriculture all over the world. Women play a crucial role in creating a just and sustainable future. Women still face significant barriers all over the world. They are underpaid, typically earning about 17 percent less than men, and undereducated, comprising two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterate adults. And although women make up over 40 percent of the world’s agricultural workforce, they own less than 15 percent of the world’s farmland. Because women make up such a large part of the agricultural workforce, and yet have significantly less access than men to resources such as education and technology, women’s empowerment must be an important part of future agricultural development policy.
Although women make up over 40 percent of the world’s agricultural workforce, they own less than 15 percent of the world’s farmland (Photo Credit: UNEP)
Our post, “Six Innovations Lifting the World’s Agricultural Workers out of Poverty,” shows that although women often lack access to the same educational and technological opportunities as men, they are just as innovative when it comes to solving problems, such as inventing safer and more efficient technologies that help female farmers.
In August we posted an article by Carolyn Raffensperger, Executive Director of the Science and Information Health Network, previewing the Women’s Congress for Future Generations to be held in September in Moab, Utah. Raffensperger and the Women’s Congress focus on the idea that women have an important role in restoring the ecology of the Earth, and that their voices must be heard in order to do so. From political discourse in the United States to the farms of developing countries, Raffensperger and the Women’s Congress call for a new civil rights movement where women’s voices can speak on behalf of future generations.
Our recent Innovation of the Week focuses on a United Nations program called Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) that helps various organizations combat malnutrition by maximizing efficiency. The program focuses its efforts first on getting proper nutrition to malnourished children and pregnant women, and secondly on establishing broader support structures such as food security, microfinance, information distribution, and access to healthcare.
The empowerment of women will not only lead to greater nutrition and income for their families, but benefit the wider community as well. Educated women are more able to make independent choices about sex, marriage, and childbearing, and typically have fewer children as a result. They are more likely to pursue their dreams and serve others, a ripple effect that makes every effort to empower them multiply.
As of this week, you can vote for us on Facebook through the Chase Community Giving Program. The more votes we get, the higher the chance we have of receiving a share of $5 million in grants to support our work on behalf of women and children around the world.
Devon Ericksen is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.
To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.