IFPRI evidence suggests that attaining gender equity and increasing women’s access to assets—including natural resources like land and water as well as human, financial, physical, social, and political capital—improves food security and reduces poverty. IFPRI researchers found that narrowing the discrepancies between men’s and women’s access to productive resources alone (including land, water, and equipment) has the potential to increase agricultural productivity by 10 to 20 percent. Moreover, equalizing men’s and women’s status has the potential to reduce the number of malnourished children by 13.4 million.
Given the importance of women’s empowerment in its own right and as a means to achieving food security, IFPRI launched a Women’s Assets program in 2008 to help elucidate the linkages between women’s control of resources and better development outcomes. The program covers both tangible and intangible assets, focusing on women’s ownership and control of natural and physical capital because, due to the scarcity of gender-disaggregated data, relatively little is known on the subject. In an effort to close this knowledge gap, the Women’s Assets Program includes an important project on land-tenure reform. The project will analyze the different methods men and women use to gain secure access to assets (namely land). In the past year, researchers surveyed households and interviewed groups in Liberia and Uganda, gathering data for an analysis of the social, economic, and institutional barriers that women face in accessing and controlling land and other resources. This information will feed into ongoing discussions of land tenure in Uganda and the establishment of a land commission in Liberia.
Other focal areas under the Natural Resource Policies theme include: