Approaches for Empowering Women and Achieving Food Security: Factsheet

Empowerment of women is a holistic concept. All round development and harmonious growth of a nation would be possible only when women are considered as equal partners in progress with men.Women constitute almost half of the total population in the world and out of which two third of world’s adult illiterates are women. According to FAO, the most disadvantaged section of society is the women; they are the ‘silent majority’ of the world’s poor.

Seventy per cent of the world’s poor are women. They face peculiar social, cultural, educational, political and allied problems.People’s overall access to food is very dependent on the work of rural women. Women farmers produce the majority of food. Women are also responsible for ensuring that their families’ basic needs are met. Women’s access to financial services, agricultural extension, education, health care and human rights are, therefore, key to assuring food security for all. Empowerment of women is essential to harness the women labour in the main stream of economic development.

It is multi-dimensional in its approach and covers economic, political, social/cultural, personal and familial aspects. Of all these facets of women development, economic empowerment is of utmost significance in order to achieve a lasting and sustainable development of society. Provision of micro finance is an important means for attaining women empowerment. 

Women and food production

- The FAO estimates that women produce over 50 percent of all food grown worldwide.

- Women carry out essential work such as hoeing, planting, weeding and harvesting with simple tools and little outside assistance.

- Despite the critical role they play in food production and management of natural resources, they have ownership of only 1 percent of the land. Lack of access to and control over land has intensified women’s difficulties, their access to credit, technical assistance and participation, all essential for development.

- Little access to credit limits their ability to purchase seeds, fertilizers and other inputs needed to adopt new farming techniques.

- There is a gap between manufacturers of agricultural implements and poor women farmers, who are probably the main users of many hand tools those manufacturers produce.

- Only 5 percent of the resources provided through extension services in Africa are available to women.

- Agricultural extension strategies traditionally have focused on increasing production of cash crops by providing men with training, information, and access to inputs and services.

Women and meeting basic needs

Women bear the primary responsibility for their families’ health, education and nutrition.

In addition to their prominence in agriculture, women bear the brunt of domestic tasks: processing food crops, providing water and firewood, picking fruit, preparing and cooking food, caring for children, the elderly and the sick.

Women and food security

There is a strong link between food security, good nutrition and gender.Every woman, man and child has the right to adequate food. In far too many cases, women and girls are overrepresented among those who are food-insecure, partly because women often are denied basic human rights such as the right to own property, to find decent work, and to have an education and good health.

Women’s right to food

- Assure women’s human rights including the rights to education, knowledge and employment and women’s equal rights to land, water and other resources that are necessary for raising the productivity of their agricultural activity, food and nutrition security.

- Ensure that women are empowered and trained to exercise their rights and take active participation in decision-making bodies.

-Promote women’s productive activities by providing trainings, credit and access to improved and appropriate technology to reduce their work load.

- Contribute to the reforming of laws on tenure, land distribution, land reform and family law, including marital and inheritance laws, to become gender equal.

- Extend the coverage of social protection to all categories of rural workers and ensure that they incorporate women’s special needs.

- Improve financial systems and services, e.g. loans and insurances, to respond to the needs and constraints of women producers and entrepreneurs.


India envisions a future in which Indian women are independent and self-reliant. In various national policies and developmental programmes, emphasis has been given on organizing women in Self Help Groups and thus, marks the beginning of a major process of empowering women. It is also felt to equip the women with necessary skills in the modern trades, which could make them economically self-reliant. Women must be empowered by enhancing their awareness, knowledge; skills and technology use efficiency, thereby, facilitating overall development of the society.


Asian Development Bank & FAO. 2013. Gender Equality and Food Security – Women’s empowerment as a tool against hunger.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “Climate Change, Biofuels,  and Land.” FAO.ftp://ftp.fao.org/nr/HLCinfo/Land-Infosheet-En.pdf (acessed  September 10th, 2008).

Sharma, P and Verma , S. K.. 2008. Women Empowerment through Entrepreneurial Activities of Self Help Groups. Ind. Res. J. Ext. Edu.,8 (1):45- 48.

Women and food security.2015.Sida,Gender tool box (BRIEF).Pp1-4

Diksha Sharma, SonikaSharma,Neetu Pareekand Hitesh Agarwal

D. Scholar, Swami Keswanand Rajasthan Agricultural University,Bikaner,

4.Ph. D. Scholar , MPUAT, Udaipur

M.Sc Student, MPUAT,Udaipur

Corresponding author e-mail: dikhusharma94@gmail.com

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