SEATTLE, Washington — More than 821 million people suffered from hunger in 2018 and two billion were considered moderately or severely food insecure. Families in developing nations are dependent on agriculture and this dependency is greatest for women, with up to 79% of economically active women working to produce food through agriculture. The importance of women in fighting world hunger cannot be understated, a belief that CARE strongly adopts. CARE believes that closing the agricultural gender gap will result in greater global food security.
The Female Face of Farming
According to FAO, 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing nations are women. They participate in the same tasks as their male counterparts, along with managing vital household roles. In fact, when considering the domestic work of women alongside their farming labor, women typically work longer hours than men in all rural regions.
Yet, despite their importance in agriculture, inequities exist with regard to the treatment of female farmers. For one, men predominantly own and control land. In Uganda, where family farms are the greatest producers, women lack formal land ownership rights. In Bangladesh, culture and customs impact land ownership, barring women from owning land even when inherited. Even when granted land, these plots are found to be “generally smaller, of an inferior quality and with less secure rights than those held by men.”
Establishing equity in farming pays off and closing the gender gap in agriculture will result in greater global food security. Investing in women to address world hunger is exactly what CARE aims for.
CARE’s She Feeds the World
Established in 1945 in the wake of World War II, CARE is a humanitarian aid organization dedicated to ending global poverty. Over seven decades, CARE has created several frameworks and programs to tackle hunger. Among its most inspiring programs is She Feeds the World, which aims to close the agricultural gender gap and solve hunger through women.
Acknowledging the value of women in agriculture and the struggles they face, She Feeds the World wants to empower women to solve the hunger crisis. The goal is to create food systems that are SuPER: Sustainable, Productive, Equitable and Resilient.
She Feeds the World has six focal points:
Women’s Empowerment: Boost the confidence of women, enable gender discussions and address the structural barriers opposing empowerment.
Women’s Access to Resources: Improve access to land, water, inputs, information and technologies as well as finances.
Inclusive Markets: Promote greater female involvement in markets, especially in negotiations and decisions.
Improving Nutrition: Encourage stronger nutrition practices through a multi-step approach.
Social Protection for Food Security: Support vulnerable households through aid programs, school feeding and cash and safety net programs that people can ‘graduate’ from once livelihoods are transformed.
Multiplying Impact: Work to create change in policies and institutions at national, regional and global levels.
Real Support Creating Real Change
Evidence of the organization’s effectiveness can be found in CARE’s past success. The pairing of CARE and the Hand in Hand Foundation led to the creation of nearly 100,000 jobs. Providing aid in Bangladesh, CARE helped to get antenatal-care visits to rise from 14% to 50% and increased other vital health statistics for women. Even more, through CARE’s Pathways to Empowerment program, women in six countries were granted new access to 9,000 acres of land for women’s farming.
But, the organization’s work does not stop in the past. CARE has partnered with the PepsiCo Foundation, receiving a $18.2 million grant. As many as five million women farmers will receive support over a six-year period (2018 to 2024). As part of the partnership, the organizations launched a video campaign called “Closing the Crop Gap.” Female farmers in India, Egypt, Poland and Guatemala were given a voice, sharing their experiences as women in agriculture.
Cargill has been a partner to the organization for more than 50 years. Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE USA, describes the partnership as distinguished because of how it “pairs philanthropic objectives and business goals.” The two organizations commonly work through education programs to improve the nutrition of youth in developing nations. In April 2020, Cargill Central America contributed an additional $150,000 to CARE International. The donation affords nutritional supplements as well as hygiene and health resources to 13,100 people.
CARE continues to promote inclusive solutions to one of the world’s greatest problems. Bridging the agricultural gender gap will not only empower women around the globe but provide immeasurable aid in the fight against hunger.
– Kelli Hughes