Women smallholder farmers work long, hard days. They get up at dawn to chop wood, milk cows, cook meals, plant seeds, and look after their children. For this they are often expected to work for nothing.
Women perform nearly half of agricultural labour in developing countries – but are paid less than men, even when doing the same work.
Men own more agricultural resources (land or livestock) than women. When women do own resources, their land and livestock are smaller and less valuable. They work more part time, seasonal or low paying jobs than men do, and find it more difficult to borrow credit.
Women are often less educated than men; few finish high school, and in some countries only a handful of women can read. This limits their ability to run households or compete with men in agriculture, let alone have a meaningful career.
The Australian Government is determined that Australian aid will redress this gender imbalance – and ACIAR projects are helping to create gender equality in developing countries.
The way to gender equality is to empower women. Women should be paid as much as men for the same work, and should have the same opportunities as their husbands or brothers for education, to own and manage their farm, to make their farms prosperous, and to lead a happy and fulfilling life.
When women are empowered, they lead more productive lives, and their families are healthier, more educated, and richer. Their daughters see that they too can have careers, and their sons have more respect for women. Empowering women breaks the poverty cycle.
Gender equality is not simply a matter of justice; gender equality helps poorer countries to develop and benefits the global economy.
If women had equal access to resources, their farms would be more productive, developing countries would produce more agricultural output, and they would be able to feed more hungry people.
ACIAR projects change women’s lives, helping them to realize their potential and make their farms more sustainable, productive and profitable — to the benefit of all.