Can farming improve the lives of rural women and girls?
Cheryl Doss - Senior Departmental Lecturer in Development Economics, Oxford University
Steve Wiggins - Principal Research Fellow, Agricultural Development Programme
Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt - Professor, Lund University, Sweden
Anita Ghimire - Director, Nepal Institute for Social and Environmental Research
Sally Baden - Lead Consultant on Women’s Economic Empowerment for Social Development Direct.
Reducing gender inequality is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. Nowhere are concerns greater than where the disadvantages of being a woman intersect with the disadvantages of living in rural areas of developing countries. In rural areas, access to education and health services is often limited, and women are more likely to depend on farming for a livelihood. As a result, interest in women farmers has grown strongly in recent times. Studies proliferate on the conditions of women as farmers in the global South, as do debates on how best to rectify disadvantages and improve the conditions under which women farm.
While this is all encouraging, how important is farming to improving the lives of rural women and girls? Studies of changes to their lives in countries that have progressed from low- to middle-income status since the early 1960s suggest that some of the main drivers of improved lives lie outside of agriculture: in education, health, women-friendly family planning, and opportunities in the non-farm economy.
To mark International Day of Rural Women on 15 October, ODI convenes an expert panel to explore this question further. The event includes discussion of new findings from recent research from ODI and the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme.
Cheryl Doss is Senior Departmental Lecturer in Development Economics and Associate Professor in Oxford University's Department of International Development. A development economist, her research focuses on issues related to assets, agriculture and gender with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa.
Steve Wiggins is Principal Research Fellow in the Agricultural Development Programme at ODI. He has been studying and working on agricultural and rural development in Africa and Latin America since 1972.
Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt is a Professor in Human Geography at Lund University, Sweden, and team leader of the Afrint group, an interdisciplinary group of researchers studying changes in rural livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa from 2002 onwards.
Anita Ghimire is research director at the Nepal Institute for Social and Environmental Research and course co-ordinator for gender and social inclusion at the College of Development Studies, Kathmandu. Anita has a PhD in Human and Natural Resource Studies from University of Zurich and Kathmandu University.
Sally Baden is an agricultural economist specialising in gender and development and women’s rights. She is currently Lead Consultant on Women’s Economic Empowerment for Social Development Direct.