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Status of Women In Agri-food Systems

GS Paper 1

 Syllabus: Role of Women and Women’s Organization


Source: DTE

 Context: According to a new report – The Status Of Women In Agrifood Systems – by the FAO, tackling gender inequality in agri-food systems can reduce hunger, boost the economy and reinforce resilience to shocks like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.


Framework for gendered agrifood system:


About the report:

  • It is the first of its kind since 2010 (State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2010–11: Women in Agriculture – Closing the gender gap for development).
  • It goes beyond agriculture to provide a comprehensive picture of the status of women working across agri-food systems.


Highlights of the report:

  • Almost four billion people rely on agri-food systems for their livelihoods and around half of them (are women) are prevented from realising their potential.
  • They are often held back by
    • Inequality and discrimination – Rigid gender norms and roles, unequal power dynamics and discriminatory social structures
    • Marginalised and denied agency
    • Work in poorer conditions with lower wages and
    • Carry a greater burden of care and unpaid work.
  • These impediments are compounded by additional challenges – climate, economic and price shocks, conflicts and the increasing risks of gender-based violence.
  • Even though women have gained more access to some resources (digital technology, financial services), gaps are either unchanged or growing especially for rural women.
  • Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the gap between women’s and men’s food security has grown to 4.3%.


India-specific findings:

  • Female participation in the labour force is low (1 in 5 women are working or looking for a job) but labour-force participation is relatively high among the poorest women, who depend on agriculture.
  • The female share of agrifood-system workers decreased by one percentage point between 2005 and 2019.
  • A 10% increase in mechanized tilling between 1999 and 2011 led to a 5% reduction in women’s farm labour with no increase in off-farm work because of limited off-farm opportunities for women.


Closing the gender gap and empowering women would: Increase global GDP by 1%/nearly $1 trillion → address the goals of ending poverty and reducing food-nutritional insecurity.



  • Women need more access to and control over the livestock, water, seeds, land, technology, and finance.
  • Eliminating discrimination by engaging with men and boys.


Some best practices from India:

  • In Tamil Nadu, women involved in fishing-related work had wider social networks, and a greater adaptive capacity to seasonal stresses.
  • The MGNREG Scheme stipulates the provision of crèche facilities for young children for women involved in the schemes.
  • In northern India, participatory village committees addressing water access, health and nutrition issues have facilitated shifts in discriminatory norms, enabling women to speak in front of men and take on public roles.


Insta Links:

Scheme for Women Farmers