This year’s International Women’s Day campaign led by UN Women will focus on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It will equally focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s human rights.
While a powerful initiative given that women’s participation and thus gender equality is a vital part of ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals can be attained, achieving gender parity by 2030 is much more complex and contains a multitude of dimensions from attaining gender parity in the board room to improved household decision making, to closing the gender gap in agriculture. For CGIAR and partners working in the realm of agricultural research for sustainable development, this is the most relevant dimension.
Agriculture is underperforming because of women’s unequal access to land, fertilizer, technology, extension and credit. At the same time agriculture also faces formidable challenges, from increased food demand to climate change impacts.Closing these gender gaps, therefore, would be good for both women and for agriculture.
Achieving gender parity in agriculture however, is not just about women; rather it’s about the balance of power between men and women, and the distribution of mutual benefits.
Recent CGIAR research suggests that agricultural strategies designed to change restrictive gender norms that perpetuate unequal control over assets may help women to benefit more from the work they do in agriculture.
This International Women’s Day, while stepping it up for gender equality and aiming to achieve planet 50-50 by 2030, let’s focus on influencing policies and engaging in interventions that promote cooperation – as in joint ownership — that benefits women as well as men.
Cooperation however, can’t work if there’s underlying inequity — if one cooperator controls all the assets and the other is weakly endowed.
We therefore, need to keep pursuing policy, and legal and normative changes that level the playing field in terms of improving women’s access to land, wages, technology, training, credit and market participation. There’s no easy substitute for that.