Agricultural Value Chain Development: Threat or Opportunity for Women's Employment?

Published: December 2009

This document presents information on how agricultural markets are rapidly globalizing, generating new consumption patterns and new production and distribution systems. Value chains, often controlled by multinational or national firms and supermarkets, are capturing a growing share of the agri-food systems in developing regions. They can provide opportunities for quality employment for men and women, yet they can also be channels to transfer costs and risks to the weakest nodes, particularly women. They often perpetuate gender stereotypes that keep women in lower paid, casual work and do not necessarily lead to greater gender equality.

Key Findings

  • Modern agricultural value chains grow and become more sophisticated as countries industrialize and strengthen their position in global markets. Although such value chains are changing the gendered structure of employment and better educated women often compete fairly well with men for quality jobs, gender stereotypes that keep poor and uneducated women in lower paid, less skilled and more insecure work within the value chain still persist.
  • To ensure that rural women and their communities benefit fully from value chain employment opportunities, a combination of measures should be considered by governments, international agencies, the private sector and civil society, including: Create an appropriate enabling environment to promote agricultural value chains with a focus on the poor, promote good practices, and foster women's participation in producer and worker organizations and decision-making processes.
  • Specific policies: 1. Reduce gender inequalities in modern agricultural value chains 2. Reduce entry barriers for women farmers and entrepreneurs in modern value chains 3. Improve women's returns in traditional value chains Reinforce agricultural transformation with social strategies

Populations Poor, Rural, Women

Industries Agriculture/Food Processing

Publishers Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labour Organization (ILO)