CGIAR Gender

SOUTH ASIA WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE DURING COVID-19

While COVID-19 pandemic has affected the livelihoods of billions worldwide, the economic fallout of the crisis is being acutely felt by women whose jobs are more likely to be temporary and part-time than their male counterparts. As the extended shutdowns slow economies, women are bearing the brunt of layoffs and job losses, particularly in South Asia where women account for more than half the agricultural workforce vis-à-vis the global average of 26%.

Figure 1: Share of agriculture holders by gender

Depending on the region, sociocultural norms and agricultural practices, women tend to be involved in specific farming operations. For rice farming, women in Bangladesh are frequently limited to post-harvest activities whereas in India women also participate in crop establishment, harvesting and post-harvesting activities. Among the women engaged in agriculture, few are landholders, ranging from 4.8% in Bangladesh to 12.8% in India (Figure 1). This means the vast majority of women farmers in South Asia (85‒95%) are unpaid family workers or paid laborers on other people’s farms.

The International Potato Center (CIP) has been working for many years with vulnerable women farmers in Odisha and Assam, two poor agricultural states in eastern India. While CIP staff have always found them to be extremely resilient, their lack of capital and regular supply of food, as well as high degree of economic uncertainty make them the most vulnerable of women farmers.

Continue reading on the CIP website.