Why Women Lose Out From Agricultural Investments

  • 25th January 2017
  • by secretary

Promoting Gender Equality in Foreign Agricultural Investments: Lessons from voluntary sustainability standards

© 2017 International Institute for Sustainable Development | IISD.org, Kathleen Sexsmith January 2017, 60 pages
This report analyzes the gender-related content of five major global agricultural sustainability standards and five principles for responsible investment in agriculture.

The report answers the question: Do the global principles and standards improve gender equality? It also examines how to build on the successes and failures of these initiatives to improve gender equality in agricultural investments. The experiences of the sustainability standards are used to provide guidance for responsible investment.

This paper contributes to the emerging literature on the gendered impacts of the contemporary wave of foreign agricultural investments. The outcomes of agricultural investments for men and women often differ in rural areas of the Global South where gender inequalities are persistent. 

  • Barriers to women’s access to productive resources— production inputs, credit and training—reduce female agricultural producers’ yields by 20–30 per cent from their full potential (FAO, 2011). 
  • Further, culturally based gender discrimination often leaves women with a heavier burden for care work, diminishes their access to education, restricts their access to land and limits options for decent paid work (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [UNCTAD], 2015). 
  • The evidence presented in this paper indicates that these inequalities are often exacerbated by foreign agricultural investments, unless investors and host country governments work to ensure that investment contracts address the needs of women farmers and agricultural workers.