When pop star Beyoncé wrote her female empowerment anthem, “Run the World (Girls),” she probably wasn’t focused on who runs the farms that feed us. But she could have.
Women make up 43 percent of agriculture workers in developing countries, yet they tend to be less productive than men because they have less access to information, money, and help with other household responsibilities, according to a 2011 report on the state of agriculture by the Food and Agriculture Organization. “The gender gap imposes real costs on society in terms of lost agricultural output, food security and economic growth,” the report says.
To fix it, many aid groups have prioritized focusing on women: creating agricultural outreach programs to help educate them on running a businesses, designing mechanical farm equipment more efficiently for their smaller frames, and helping them address childcare and low-value household responsibilities, like gathering water and firewood.
Closing that agriculture gender gap could mean increased farm yields and total agricultural output, and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent, according to FAO. Also, when women control income, they spend more on food, health, clothes, and education for their kids than men do, pushing them toward the opportunity for a better life.
P.S.: Beyoncé recently teamed up with the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama to call for gender equality across all sectors by 2030 to help end poverty, promote prosperity, and protect the environment. Maybe it could start on the farm.
Meanwhile, enjoy this gallery of women and men who work hard every day to harvest our food, created by our Your Shot community.