Thursday, May 20, 2010

Supporting female farmers with more data

Women in Africa make up 60 percent of the agricultural workforce, and they grow between 60 to 80 percent of the food. Yet the female farmers don't know who each other are, and have little cooperative opportunities to help each other out. This is due in part because a lack of data on women growing food, not even the governments and NGOs know who they are.

From the IPS, writer Mantoe Phakathi introduces us to a new data collection tool that might help the female farmers to network efforts.

African governments now have the tools to conduct such surveys, thanks to the FAO. The U.N. agency has devised an Agri-Gender Statistics Toolkit that will help countries gather more information on differences between men and women in agriculture and contribute to agricultural development.

Launched in April, the toolkit provides the analytical framework needed to collect data on the nature of women and men’s agricultural work, their access to resources and exposure to food insecurity.

"With more specific information, policy makers can provide greater support to those who lack access and control over agricultural resources and help women to achieve greater equality and food security," said Diana Tempelman, toolkit author and FAO senior officer for gender and development.

Tempelman emphasised that sex-disaggregated data collection is a new area that has been developing based on an increasing understanding of the relevance of knowing the impact of gender relations on individual, family and national development.

The fact that the toolkit was developed in response to a request from the African Commission on Agricultural Statistics (AFCAS) is a positive sign that governments are recognising the contributions of both women and men to agricultural development and the need for planning that takes this into consideration.

Although there has always been data on men and women, this has mainly been collected for the purposes of determining the sex and age composition of populations, education, health, certain sections of formal employment and other sectors.

"But there is scope for improving the availability of socio-economic data reflecting all men and women’s involvement in development and their specific constraints and opportunities," said Tempelman.

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