Rural cooperatives and farmers’ organizations play a crucial role in the eradication of hunger and poverty. One of the ways they achieve this is through their vocation to empower small agricultural producers, and in particular women farmers.
“Organizing is the key to empowerment. Organizing is the process by which people who are individually weak and vulnerable unite and create power together. When individuals who are among the poorest, least educated and most disenfranchised members of society come together they experience dramatic changes in their lives.” – Renana Jhabvala, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).
Empowering women farmers improves food security for all
Women comprise on average 43% of the agricultural labour force in developing countries and produce the bulk of the world’s food crops. While the vast majority of small scale producers experience difficulties accessing resources, socio-cultural norms particularly curtail women producer’s access to productive resources including education, land, technologies, information, financial services, and markets.
Their presence in decision-making bodies, especially in leadership positions, also remains weak, and their needs as farmers are seldom accounted for in policy and resource allocation. As a result, women farmers do not produce to their full capacity.
If women farmers had access to the same opportunities and resources as men farmers, their productivity would rise significantly and the food security of millions of people would be improved.
One challenge that remains is to improve women’s participation in cooperatives. The same socio-economic constraints that limit women’s access to resources also often challenge their participation in organizations. 2012, declared the International Year of Cooperatives by the United Nations General Assembly, offers a unique window of opportunity for governments and development agencies to reinforce farmers’ organizations and to support them to empower the women within their ranks.
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Source: FAO website