Panelists Call for Women’s Important Role in Alleviating Global Hunger to be Reflected it Agriculture Funding

By Abby Massey

Nourishing the Planet co-director, Danielle Nierenberg (left), with members of the Abooman women farmers group in Ghana. (Photo: Bernard Pollack)

Though women farmers produce more than half of the food grown in the world—and roughly 1.6 billion women depend on agriculture for their livelihoods—they receive only about 5 percent of agriculture extension services and only own about 2 percent of land worldwide.

At the House Hunger Caucus briefing held on Wednesday, April 28th in Washington DC, panelist David Kauck, Senior Specialist of International Center for Research on Women noted that, worldwide, “risks, rewards, benefits and resources are not shared equally” between husbands and wives.  And he called, along with the other panelists at the briefing, on the agriculture donor community to direct more funding towards addressing the unique needs of women farmers.

Lydia Sasu, Executive Director of Ghana’s Development Action Association, recounted that while growing up in Ghana she was acutely aware of her mother’s struggle to earn enough money to put food on the table.  Like many women in sub-Saharan Africa, she was “the one responsible for feeding the family, educating the children and taking care of the household.” Yet, the majority do not have access to basic services that could help any farm thrive—such as credit, proper infrastructure and education.  Sasu and the other panelists –who also included Kristy Cook, Food Security Advisor, USAID’s Bureau for Africa and Cheryl Morden, Director of the North American Liaison Office of the International Fund for Agricultural Development— emphasized that with access to education, for example, more women would be able to read, gain market access and better assess fair crop prices, becoming stronger leaders and benefiting not only their own families but the larger community.

Echoing the important role women play in feeding families and communities, Morden, poignantly noted that there is a “big pay-off in focusing on women, neglect them and you’ll end up doing harm.”

For more information on the role of women in reducing hunger see Women Farmers Are Key to Halving Global Hunger by 2015, Innovation of the Week: Reducing the Things They Carry, and Innovation of the Week: Access to Water Improves Quality of Life for Women and Children.

Abby Massey is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

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