Did you know, in the Global South, a majority of women are farmers?

They grow food for their families and communities. They strengthen their economies, conserve biodiversity, protect local ecosystems and increase resilience to climate change.

Despite these essential contributions, women’s farming is undervalued and constrained by structural barriers. This limits women’s agency and prevents them from being able to act as leaders in their communities.

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Barriers to gender equity in agriculture in the Global South

There are widespread infringements on the rights of smallholder women farmers in the Global South. In many regions, patriarchal norms limit their decision-making power in the household and prevent them from participating fully in social, political and economic activities outside the home. They have less access to resources like land and credit, and face extra barriers to market participation. Women also have less access to training and agricultural extension services, in part since these generally focus on cash crops, which are mostly managed by men.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by economic hardship and climate change. They’re the first to go hungry and suffer during extreme weather events. They have the least decision-making power and access to productive resources. Intersecting aspects of their identity, like race, ethnic group, gender presentation and identity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status, reinforce power imbalances and inequality, compounding women’s vulnerability.

Breaking down barriers

With the right kind of support, women can transform their communities. The FAO estimates that if women farmers had equal access to resources, they could increase their yields by 20-30 per cent and reduce the number of hungry people by 12-17 per cent. So in addition to being more just, gender equity in agriculture in the Global South could actually lead to less hunger and healthier communities.

SeedChange supports agroecology as a participatory and rights-based strategy that strengthens women’s empowerment and leads to greater food sovereignty. Elements of our programs include building on women’s knowledge of biodiversity through training, improving health and livelihoods through organic inputs, increasing women’s access to and control over resources, facilitating women’s access to markets, and supporting women as leaders in their communities.

Take a look at the case studies below to see some ways in which our work supports women farmers.

Case studies

Women seeding change in their communities through agroecology

Training opportunities for youth

Jeidy Marilú Domínguez Morales, farmer and entrepreneur, Honduras

Read her story

Building on women’s knowledge of biodiversity

Sitan Diarra, farmer and certified seed producer, Mali

Read her story

Supporting women as organizers

Irania Lira Benavidez, farmer and policy-maker, Nicaragua

Read her story

Supporting women as leaders

Herlinda Matias, farmer and community trainer, Guatemala

Read her story

Agroecology: a viable path toward gender equity and women’s empowerment

Agroecology is the model best suited to overcoming gender barriers in agriculture. It prioritizes local food security, ecosystem integrity, biodiversity, climate resilience, and social justice – reflecting women’s needs and aspirations as farmers. It’s a feminist and rights-based approach that is shaped by women and strongly connected to their knowledge and expertise.

Women’s knowledge of agricultural biodiversity holds a central place in agroecology. The participatory, farmer-to-farmer knowledge-sharing methodologies embedded in agroecology also help to value women’s contributions to farming and biodiversity and make them visible. Together with gender equality strategies and training, women’s economic initiatives based in agroecology show impressive results in strengthening women’s leadership and empowerment.

Download our publication, Women Seed Change, to learn more about what makes agroecology uniquely suited to enhancing gender equity in agriculture in the Global South.


Donate today and help a farmer put equity on the table today

Your support will help a woman run her farm sustainably, make a better income for her family, and work with her community to tackle challenges like climate change and gender inequity.


Here’s how you can support gender equity in agriculture in the Global South