Overview: empowering women to achieve food security

2020 Focus 6, Brief 1

Women play important roles as producers of food, managers of natural resources, income earners, and caretakers of household food and nutrition security. Giving women the same access to physical and human resources as men could increase agricultural productivity, just as increases in women’s education and improvements in women’s status over the past quarter century have contributed to more than half of the reduction in the rate of child malnutrition. In many countries, increasing assets that women control also has a positive impact on the next generation, particularly on education and health.

Despite improvements in building women’s capabilities, gender gaps in entitlements—the resources that women can command through available legal means—continue to persist. Improvements have been greatest in increasing opportunities to invest in and make use of human capital, but smallest in assuring women’s rights to natural and physical capital. These disparities have serious consequences for wellbeing, not only for women themselves, but also for their families and for society. Empowering women is key to achieving food security.

These briefs consider different strategies for empowering women by strengthening their asset base—natural and physical capital, human capital, social and financial capital—and by providing the legal and institutional framework to guarantee their command over resources.

Quisumbing, Agnes R.
Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela
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International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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