To create the key policies a rural woman needs, we must consider the many roles a woman plays. She is a farmer and a mother. She is a bread winner and probably a bread maker. She is ready to invest in her children and to steward her land. She has a wealth of knowledge and skills that are essential for nurturing and managing the environment, agriculture, local economy, family, community and culture. Yet frequently she is not consulted about policies, development interventions or education programmes that will impact her life.
She faces economic and social constraints. Women account for 60 to 80% of smallholder farmers and produce 90% of food in Africa and about half of all food worldwide. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, only 15% of landholders are women and they receive less than 10% of credit and 5% of extension services. Policies that address gender inequalities could, conservatively, increase yields on women’s farms by 2.5% to 4%. Women are key to food and nutrition security and sustainable development. We need to empower rural women through policies that help them in Growing, Marketing, Adapting, Caring, Connecting and Leading.