What Works for Women: Proven Approaches for Empowering Women Smallholders and Achieving Food Security

Published: February 2012

This document presents proven approaches for empowering women smallholders and achieving food security. Over the last few years an unparalleled attention has been given to the issue of food security and the importance of smallholder agriculture, with particular recognition of the role of women farmers. In this context, nine international development agencies have produced this briefing to share the lessons learned based on their experience of promoting gender equality and working with women smallholders and rural women over many decades. This paper concludes with a number of recommendations for policy makers on measures to help close the gender gap in agriculture

Key Findings

  • Access to productive resources is essential.
  • Economic empowerment is not enough, underlying gender inequalities must be challenged.
  • Disaster resilience and risk management approaches must be gender-sensitive and integrated with development interventions.
  • Current agricultural policies and programmes continue to be gender-blind and largely disadvantageous to women smallholder farmers.
  • Gender issues are explicitly incorporated into less than 10 per cent of official development assistance (ODA) that is directed toward agriculture.
  • Creating a more enabling environment for women smallholders and improving food security outcomes requires agricultural and nutrition policies, resources and programmes that recognise the potential of women's multiple roles as food producers and providers.
  • Collective action is key to economic and social empowerment.

Populations Women

Complementary Outcomes Food And Nutrition Security, Women's Rights

Industries Agriculture/Food Processing

Publishers Actionaid international, CARE, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Find Your Feet, Oxfam, Practical Action, Save the Children, Self Help Africa

Geographic Focus Africa (Central) / Rwanda