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These tools for the agriculture sector can be used to explore gender opportunities, screen potential investments through a gender lens, and advise portfolio companies on how to better integrate gender into their operations and supply chains. Then follow the evidence to learn where gender matters most with the agriculture Gender Materiality Map.

GENDER OPPORTUNITIES EXPLORER

Understand opportunities to better integrate gender into a company’s operations and supply chain

GENDER SCORING TOOL

Complete a questionnaire about the target company to generate a personalized gender scorecard

CASE STUDIES

Explore how leading agriculture-related companies integrate gender into their operations, and the resulting business and social benefits

Copyright: Hewlett (Peru).

Briefing: Gender & Agriculture

Agriculture remains the foundation of global food security and an economic pillar in many regions of the world, accounting for 26% of GDP in low-income countries in 2016. An estimated 2.5 billion rural people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with 65% of adults living in extreme poverty engaged in agricultural activities such as farming, fishing, animal husbandry, hunting, and forestry. The World Bank estimates that given significant levels of employment in the sector, growth in agriculture may be 2-4 times more effective in raising incomes among the poorest populations than investment in any other sector.

Gender remains an important consideration in the sustainable expansion of agribusiness in low- and middle-income economies. Women have historically played a central role in the cultivation and processing of agricultural products. Yet, since women disproportionately face barriers to land ownership, farming inputs, equipment, technology, financial services, education, and markets, a gender gap is often reflected in agricultural yields. In the era of climate volatility, sub-optimal yields affect the entire value chain, from the livelihoods of smallholders and viability of farmer cooperatives, to the operational continuity of companies involved in aggregation, processing, and export of agricultural commodities.

In order to contribute to progress on Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture), a more explicit gender lens needs to be applied to investments in agriculture. Gender-smart investment in agribusiness supply chains has the potential to increase sustainability and spark inclusive economic development, while conferring widespread social and health benefits to families and communities. If women had equal access to inputs and thus achieved equal yields, overall productivity in developing countries would increase by 2.5-4%, which the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates could reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100-150 million people, or 12-17%.

Beyond engaging women as farmers/suppliers, agribusinesses further downstream may glean additional organizational and commercial benefits from maintaining a gender diverse workforce. While many companies in the sector perform activities in only one or two segments of the end-to-end value chain (e.g., agronomic research and training, farm inputs and finance, or processing and packaging), women’s participation in all areas and levels reinforces efficiencies and advantages across various agricultural industries. Specifically:

  • Incorporating a gender lens in input provision and use increases the likelihood of consistently high yields by ensuring women and men have equal access to information, opportunities, and productive inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, agro-chemicals, training, farm finance and equipment. Without explicitly considering women’s needs, they may be left out of input markets, as women typically have lower levels of land ownership and smaller plots, and thus less collateral and access to input financing. In addition, lower literacy levels, limited mobility and fewer networks can prevent women from accessing necessary information and skills to access and use inputs effectively. Input providers can take steps to make their services and products gender-inclusive, enabling more women to join agricultural supply chains. Engaging women as agro-dealers, seed brokers, and extension workers can help companies reach remote areas, diversify their farmer base, and improve correct product usage through enhanced communication and sales with female farmers. Ultimately this can lead to better yields and greater brand loyalty.
  • Engaging women in farming and production can leverage their traditional roles in land cultivation and animal rearing, especially in value chains that have been historically female-dominated. Women may be trusted promoters of a crop and are frequently organized in networks that share information and may open up valuable new supply channels. Whether sourcing from smallholders and cooperatives, or hiring for permanent and seasonal roles on corporate farms, businesses benefit from the secure supply base and knowledgeable workforce that comes from targeting women in farming and production.
  • Gender-smart operations during storage, transportation, aggregation, and processing can enable companies to attain sustainable volumes and efficient logistics in their coordination with female (and male) farmers and agents. When aggregating products, purchasing from female farmers or gender-equitable cooperatives enhances social impacts on female farmers involved in these groups, while reducing women’s post-harvest losses and giving companies access to a more diverse and sustainable supplier base. Attracting and retaining women in related professional roles also allows agribusinesses to capitalize on the diversity dividend in their management and employee teams. Creating workplaces that provide a safe, healthy environment and equal opportunities for women and men can lead to reduced risks, greater productivity, and cost savings. Adhering to social and environmental best practices for employers can also attract investors and open the door to export and other high-value markets.
  • Gender inclusion in marketing and sales can help agriculture-related companies capture new insights from women’s participation in professional roles. A gender lens can also increase sales through smarter customer segmentation, for example food companies may advertise gender-specific benefits of products or target women-led businesses. Branding as “gender empowering” can even attract a premium; companies selling to end-consumers can leverage consumer interest in ethical supply chains by marketing products as produced by women and/or companies with gender-equitable practices. For some companies, it may also be possible to develop supplemental revenue streams by supporting women’s entrepreneurship opportunities in the local market context.

Gender Materiality Map

To find out more about where gender is most material in the agriculture sector, explore our Gender Materiality Map.

Understand Gender Materiality

Social Impact Visual

To see the causal pathways through which gender integration in agriculture-related companies creates social impacts for women and communities, explore our Social Impact Visual.

Understand Social Impact


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