Agriculture is a sector that, like many others, has traditionally been led by men. However, there are more and more cases of women taking back the reins of their farms or projects and leading the change. They are paving the way for equity and inclusion, bringing diversity, innovation, commitment and creativity. Rural women and women directly or indirectly linked to the agricultural sector were and are fundamental pillars of work in the countryside and in the development of the agro-industrial potential of countries. In fact, the global average indicates that 43% of the agricultural workforce is female.
The latest report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reveals that progress on a global scale is still slow. Inequalities in agri-food systems hold women back at all levels and in all roles. Women lack access to training, credit and fundamental tools such as land, fertilizers and irrigation systems that would enable them to contribute in an equal way.
Agri-food systems are one of the main sectors providing employment for women around the world, and in many countries, they are a more important source of livelihood for women than for men. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 66% of women’s employment is in this sector, compared to 60% for men. In South Asia, the vast majority of women work in agri-food systems (71% of women compared to 47% of men), although there are fewer women than men in the labour force.
In Spain, another report, by the Observatory of Spanish agri-food cooperatives, shows that there are 27% of women in the social base, 12% of women in management positions in cooperative enterprises, 9% of women on the governing councils and 4% in the presidency of these.
There is certainly still some way to go, but the percentages have increased in recent years and this is cause for celebration and hope, according to Teresa López, president of FADEMUR, the Federation of Rural Women’s Associations, who has repeatedly denounced the consequences of the double discrimination they suffer for being women and living and working in rural areas.
Their access to the labour market is lower than that of men despite their high qualifications, 7 points higher than men between the ages of 35 and 49, and more than 14 points higher than men between the ages of 20 and 34, according to the most recent data published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. And those who work have worse conditions. Faced with this reality, the number of female entrepreneurs is increasing. Building one’s own business is often the only way out. Despite the fact that rural entrepreneurship is also predominantly male, women account for 23.8% of the self-employed in the villages.
Lola Gómez Ferrón, Manager of Clisol, and Adelina Salinas Clemente, Commercial Director of ZOI, are good examples. Yesterday, Thursday 25th of May, they shared their experiences and their knowledge and advice at a free, face-to-face conference organized by the ISAM Business School, which is committed to eliminating unconscious gender biases that sometimes prevent women from being promoted to decision-making positions.