Women of the land are custodians of culture, community and cuisine

 January 22, 2022

Worldwide, women are forging change in their communities through agriculture.

It is women who are often the custodians of local culture, community and cuisine - and they work hard to meet the household needs of food, nutrition and income.

Women are pioneers. They're central to farming, forging positive change through agroecology on their farms and in their communities.

Their innovative approaches can transform situations of hardship, exclusion, crisis, or social vulnerability into a positive and uplifting spiral of innovation, solidarity, and personal growth.

Many of their farming innovations are based on agroecological principles such as diversifying, using fewer pesticides, scaling up, or building relationships with consumers. 

Women on the land work tenaciously to create safe, healthy and just societies. 

They are important decision-makers and visionaries.

The land is their life.


Change is afoot

Women agriculture johndeere

Worldwide, farming remains considerably a male-dominated industry. Regardless of effort and achievement, both conscious and unconscious bias prevail regarding the credibility and capability of women.

Historically in agriculture, there have been clear binaries and gender bias. Men have been seen as producers, dominant and primary farmers. Women have been perceived as the carer, nurturer, and mother. Yet women have learned to turn these traits into strengths as they translate and innovate a farming philosophy that favors a move away from conventional practices. To reach their potential, women farmers need to be seen and supported.

Women are generally either born or marry into the lifestyle, and it hasn't been until more recent times that women have tended to assert their identified occupation as a 'farmer.' 

Additionally, there has been an increasing shift in worldwide markets where consumers are seeking a closer connection with healthy and environmentally friendly food. Consumer understanding surrounding the journey from paddock to plate has become more critical. The role, talent and personality of women on the land is incredibly key to this narrative. 

Empowering female farmers to feed the world

Women farming food

Much has been written and researched about the fact that closing the global gender gap in agriculture would increase food production and build sustainable futures for women.

The majority of economically active women in the least-developed countries work in agriculture and there are many gender-specific obstacles. Factors like a lack of access to land, financing, markets, agricultural training and education, suitable working conditions, and equal treatment put female farmers at considerable disadvantage before they ever work a field or sow a seed. Land rights themselves are certainly a very significant issue.

Women work hard and long to build and sustain their farms. It's a very physically, emotionally and intellectually demanding lifestyle. 

While there remain many complexities, factors and barriers, elevating the visibility of women from the land and celebrating their achievement is key.

These are the women forging change. These are the women carving out new possibilities. These are the women pioneering against the odds.

Women are the backbone of change.

So, as the well-known quote goes, "Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”

IWD Toolkit

Join the IWD Community