Feed the Future
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Understanding what could empower women farmers

This post by Caity Peterson is cross-posted from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Blog. Peterson is a visiting researcher based at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, working on CCAFS Theme 1: Adaptation to Progressive Climate Change.

Empowering women farmers in developing countries might result in a trickle-down effect, gradually encouraging and strengthening other women too. Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)Most of us would think that the way to make women better farmers is to empower women farmers. The logic is there. The directness of the approach is appealing. So what are we missing?

On day one of the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, (GCARD2), the Policy Forum on Agricultural Innovation for Rural Women gave conference-goers a taste of progressive research and initiatives aiming to improve the state of rural women for food security.

We may not realize it, but women, especially in Africa, prefer to get their information from other women. They can relate better, they feel more comfortable and are more willing to work together. With men, they have less confidence and are less likely to open up.

Bridgit Muasa, from the Kenya Ministry of Livestock Development, explained what that means for agricultural research for development: If we want better women farmers, we need better women leaders. That is to say, we need women professionals, women educators, and women mentors higher up on the information chain.

The empowerment of women through education allows them to become leaders in the agricultural field. The result is a trickle-down effect; women farmers gradually become more empowered too, as they are more likely to receive and utilize helpful advice if it comes from a fellow woman.

Continue reading the full post on the CGIAR CCAFS Blog.