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World would gain $1 trillion by closing agriculture gender gap — UN

Agence France-Presse
World would gain $1 trillion by closing agriculture gender gap � UN
A veiled woman farmer harvests a wheat crop on the outskirts of Ajmer in India on February 28, 2023.
AFP / Himanshu Sharma

PARIS, France — Closing the gender gap in the agriculture and food system, where women still earn less than men, would add $1 trillion to the global economy, a UN report said Thursday.

The report, updating the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2011 study into the matter, found that women continue to occupy a "marginal" place in agrifood systems.

Women must "cope with work conditions that are often more difficult than those of men, in that they are confined to jobs that are casual, part-time, informal or low-skilled", it said.  

Women represent more than half of the agricultural workforce in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and just under half in Southeast Asia.

Around the world, they are lagging behind when it comes to access to land, resources like fertilizers and seeds, financing or technology, while they are often more dependent on agriculture to survive.

"The share of men who hold the rights to property or are guaranteed rights of agricultural land is two times higher than that of women," in more than 40 percent of countries that provide data on women's land ownership, the FAO said.

Due to their lack of resources and information, "women also have a lower capacity for adaptation and resilience during climate shocks".

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, "22 percent of women lost their jobs" in agri-food industries, compared to just two percent of men.

Their income is also 18.4 percent lower than men employed in agriculture.

While the majority of public agricultural policies acknowledge women's difficulties, only 19 percent display "gender equality as specific objective", according to the FAO. 

Yet "the elimination of these disparities that exist between women and men, as it pertains to agricultural productivity and wages... would increase global GDP by 1 percent", or nearly $1 trillion.

It would also reduce the number of food-insecure people by 45 million.

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