In several places small scale farmer face many difficulties in saving money and investing in their businesses. Across the world, both in rich and in poor countries, most small scale farmers are women, which face even greater challenges.
Female production and women economic potential – including their ability to invest in their own activities – is limited by deeply rooted discrimination, that involves access to key resources such as land, technology and education.
Reducing gender inequalities and increasing women access to resources is essential to accelerate rural and agricultural development and to fight poverty.
Women represent about 43% of the working force in developing countries. The percentage varies between 20% in Latin American countries and almost 50% in eastern and south eastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The percentage of farms managed by women varies from 15/40% in Latin America, to 10/25% in Asia and 20/45% in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, compared to men, women farmers have always less access to productive resources and to essential services required to work. They have less chances of owing land or livestock. Less opportunities to access new technologies, less access to credit, other financial systems or expert advices. With respect to land, the number one vital good, data tell us that in north Africa and eastern Asia less of 5% of land owners are women. The percentage grows to 19% in south eastern Asia and in Latin America.
And that is not all of it: in addition of not usually owning the land, when women do own a farm, its dimension is on average smaller if compared to farms owned by men. Moreover, women have less machineries, less heads of cattle and they usually have only small size animals. All these elements are also strictly connected with the level of education, which is still significantly lower for women, despite the efforts of the last decades to reduce this gap.
However, both in the south and in the north of the world, there are successful stories that show how women can guarantee as well as men – or even more – environmental sustainability and food security.