Globally, women play a critical role in ensuring food security. A working paper published by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicate that, data shows that women comprise about 43 percent of the agricultural labour force globally and in developing countries. But this figure masks considerable variation across regions and within countries according to age and social class.
Despite the enormous contributions of women farmers to agriculture, they continue to be underrepresented in decision making processes and face significant barriers to accessing resources that boost their productivity and wellbeing.
Gender inequality is still prevalent in the agricultural sector. as traditional systems in some rural communities continue to place restrictions on women’s access to land, agricultural inputs and services. A survey carried out by Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) in 2020 found that, significant number of women face discrimination at fertilizer retail points and are therefore unable to purchase sufficient and required quantities of subsidized fertilizer due to age long stereotyping of women. Despite the fact that the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) strategic document in ensuring inclusivity, prioritized value chains that are important for women and young people to ensure their participation in the program, smallholder women farmers frequently continue to be overlooked and due to their lower purchasing power, they are often neglected. These challenges reflect the symptoms of implementation loopholes associated with the Fertilizer Subsidy Program under the PFJ.
Refreshingly, women are beginning to find their voices and be recognized to participate in decision-making that affects their livelihoods. This has been achieved, thanks to the efforts of various organizations, including PFAG.
A SPARK to life
Organizations like Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) and International Budget Partnership (IBP) are working to put the “SPARK” back on their faces.
Dr. Charles Nyaaba, Executive Director at PFAG said: “When you invest in women, women pay you back.” It is high time, we ensured that, our policy designs and strategies properly target women and deliberate efforts put in place to ensure that this goal is achieved.
The IBP funded SPARK (Strengthening Public Accountability for Results and Knowledge) programme is an ambitious and innovative global programme that aims to equip marginalized groups especially farmers and activists with the tools necessary to engage in budget processes and effect transformational change in their lives.
In Ghana, SPARK is working with smallholder farmers especially the women, youth and persons with disability who are part of the PFAG, to address issues such as late delivery and limited access to subsidized fertilizer and associated services.
FAO’s State of Food and Agriculture report reveals that, providing women with equal access to agricultural resources as men could increase production on women’s farms in developing countries by 20% to 30%. This could increase total agricultural production in developing countries by 2.5 to 4%, thereby reducing global hunger by 12 to 17%, or 100 to 150 million people.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow. The theme recognizes the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, in order to create a more sustainable future for all.
As we commemorate United Nation International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8th March, 2022, we call on the government and all stakeholders to break the bias that limits women’s access to productive resources and farm inputs.