CGIAR Gender News

Moving beyond reaching women in seed systems development

Harvesting WEMA maize Photo: Peter Lowe/CIMMYT

The importance of seed systems to empower women has so far been neglected. Applying gender analysis to improve seed systems and reduce/overcome existing biases in access to and availability and use of quality seed of local and improved varieties is an essential first step toward empowering women.

Seed is critical to food security as the first link in the food value chain and can be a powerful agent of change. Similarly, women’s empowerment and gender equality are key to food and nutrition security. The interplay between the two is becoming increasingly important: socioeconomic and gender differences in seed and food security must be understood to target seed interventions effectively.

However, the importance of seed systems to empower women has so far been neglected. This chapter contributes toward closing this gap. Gender analysis is important for a comprehensive understanding of seed systems and to shape effective and inclusive interventions that go beyond reaching women to benefit and empower them. Gender relations shape seed access, use, and outcomes. In developing countries, seed is often managed by men and women on family farms and sourced mainly from farm-saved seed and the local market.