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Women around the world are doing incredible amounts of labor-intensive work to ensure their own survival and the survival of their families. The opportunity to partake in work is not lacking in most regions of the world – there is plenty of work to go around – but women are still reaping the benefits of such contributions. The United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF) estimates that women in Cameroon are doing 75 percent of the agricultural work, yet own less than 10 percent of the farmland. And the situation is much the same in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. Similarly, in Southeast Asia, women are responsible for 90 percent of the rice production. But in India, Nepal and Thailand, they own less than 10 percent of the land. A study in Burkina Faso links gender-based restrictions on access to labor and fertilizer with a 30-percent reduction in yields on plots farmed by women versus those maintained by men. In Namibia, it is still common for a woman to lose all of her livestock if her husband dies.
This type of agriculture inequity affects more than just women. It is handicapping entire regions. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that leveling the plowing field for women could increase total agriculture output in developing countries by 2.5 to four percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent-that’s 100 to 150 million people. Put another way, gender bias in agriculture is condemning millions of boys and girls to growing up hungry, a condition that routinely leads to a life of poor health and poverty.
Read more: All Africa