IFDC recognizes the important role that rural women play in agriculture around the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, women produce between 60 and 80 percent of food in most developing countries and about half of the world’s food supply. First observed in 2007, the United Nations’ International Day of Rural Women (October 15) is an annual opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate women’s contributions to achieving food security and developing rural economies around the world.
Women are often the backbone of local agricultural systems and the sole providers for their families. They are responsible for managing the nutrition of their children and other family members.
“We must realize that the farmer in Africa – especially for small-scale farms – is likely to be a ‘she,’” said Margaret Catley-Carlson, patron of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and member of the IFDC board of directors. “And while She and He both need good seed and better soil, She will probably also need special help with credit, access to information and issues related to land titles.”
According to FAO’s 2010-11 The State of Food and Agriculture report, the number of hungry people could be reduced by about 100-150 million if rural women had the same access to land, technology, credit, education and markets as men.
“The pressure climate change is exerting on agriculture has exacerbated the challenges women face in securing food, water and fuel for families in developing countries,” said H.E. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture and member of the IFDC board of directors. “Women’s increased vulnerability to climate change stems from the fact that not only do they have unequal access and control of resources as well as decision-making, but also their capacity to cope with climate change is hindered by social, economic and political barriers. Given the heavy dependence of rural women on natural resources for the household’s livelihood, IFDC’s work to improve the natural resource base in rural areas is critical for gender equity as it builds women’s resilience to climate shocks.”
Through its projects and initiatives, IFDC focuses on gender equity, female farmer and agro-dealer training, land use rights, social and financial equity and policy reform. For example, IFDC projects trained over 650,000 people in 2011; 32 percent were women. Many women-led businesses have grown into profitable small and medium enterprises, in part through support from IFDC programs that provide training in business and product management to agro-dealers.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, IFDC’s Accelerating Agriculture Productivity Improvement (AAPI) project in Bangladesh is implementing a gender equity strategy to generate greater family and community acceptance of women’s participation in agriculture. AAPI promotes the education of women farmers in modern agricultural technologies and ensures that they have equal access to these tools and their financial benefits. The project is working to increase women’s role in rice production, ensure food security at the household level and assist women to establish entrepreneurial enterprises.
IFDC, headquartered in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA, is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Center, with over 700 employees in more than 35 countries in Africa and Eurasia, is supported by various bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments.
IFDC focuses on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries through
the development and transfer of effective and environmentally sound crop nutrient technology and agribusiness expertise.