Celebrating the Role of Women in Agriculture


Last week the world celebrated International Women’s Day.

We take this momentum to reflect on the significant role women play in agriculture not only as leading scientists in agriculture but also hard working inspiring female farmers across the globe running their family farms and contributing to improvement in their family’s and community’s welfare, children nutrition and education and most importantly, a better world.

Global Food Studies has been proud of the achievements of our own female researchers who are leaders in their fields and have been an inspiration to other researchers including young female researchers. We have also been a proud partner of several institutions that demonstrate their strong commitment to women empowerment.

Here are their stories.

Empowering Women, Changing Lives

Last week, the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) published a special issue of “Partners in Research and Development” magazine on “Empowering Women, Changing Lives“.

Introducing the special edition, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP emphasised that:

“Enhancing access to financial, technical and marketing services is at the heart of empowering women and girls in the agricultural sector.”

Global Food Studies Senior Research Fellow Dr Suzie Newman shared her inspiring story in this special edition about how a research and development project has potential to improve the engagement of women.

In 2014, ACIAR commissioned a project (AGB/2012/059) to improve the profitability and sustainability of smallholder vegetable farmers in north-west Vietnam through improving market engagement and adopting integrated resource and disease management practices.

Led by the University of Adelaide and the Vietnam Women’s Union, the project is focusing particularly on women and ethnic minorities who are engaged in horticultural value chains in Sa Pa and Bac Ha in Lao Cai province.

Dr Newman defined that working with women and the Women’s Union (a sociopolitical organisation) is central to the success of the project:

“Women are the drivers of vegetable production and marketing, as they are involved in all aspects of the supply chain from farm to market.”


Gender-inclusive technologies

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) recently published ‘100 Voices – Women in Agriculture’ presenting leading figures in agriculture including scientists and community mobilisers. The ICRISAT is a non-profit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world.

The ICRISAT has focused not only on introducing a new technology in farming but also involving women in the design of the technology and educating women on how to implement the technology by taking into account their specific needs and circumstances.

All speakers on the 100 Voices series including Global Food Studies Director and a member of the ICRISAT Governing Board Professor Wendy Umberger clearly highlighted the significant role of women in agriculture as well as in improving their family’s welfare as indicated by their income, health and nutrition status. Women are not only contributing to farm production for example in the context of Afghanistan through seed production, but also ‘help men’.

Supporting women requires a different perspective of how research and development programs should see their roles. Education, land rights, access to new technology and greater awareness of the gender context are some of the key aspects to achieve improved gender equality. At the same time, increased contribution outside the house means a need to identify the support they require to continue to contribute to their family income as well as to ensure their children are being looked after.

We congratulate all women in agriculture for their wonderful achievements.




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