Today we commemorate International Women’s Day and this is not about celebration, it’s about raising awareness and promoting gender equality at all levels. When we think about agriculture it’s common to think of it as a profession for men, but that’s not true and the numbers can’t lie.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 70% of work in Latin-America’s agriculture is done by women and according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 76% of all women in Kenya are employed in agriculture. The number is quite big and the reason why we don’t usually notice the impact of women in agriculture is that they are not empowered and don’t have access to decision making roles and processes.
Here are some of the reasons why gender-balanced agriculture benefits everyone and how new and accessible energies can help too:
1. If women in agriculture are empowered through access to technologies and renewable energies they can save time and energy from domestic activities and invest it in their farms and crop production. For example, women using Sistema.bio biodigesters have been able to save time and money to invest in their own businesses, they now have access to clean-renewable energy called biogas, they no longer need to buy firewood or LP gas, the only resource they need to produce it is animal manure.
Women all over the world are cooking with biogas
2. According to Value4Women, by empowering women, their family well-being is considerably improved. Women usually live under certain social and cultural gender norms that reduce the time they can invest in new income generation. When having access and exposure to higher-valued positions within agriculture, women can guarantee a bigger income and health/food security for her and her family. In this video, you can see some of the testimonials of women that have improved their lives by using biodigesters:
3. Gender equality helps distribute responsibilities among the economically active members of the family, a bigger family income can ensure access to education of their children, preventing the need of them working at a young age. Also, most of the times women have the unpaid role of childcare and domestic work, making men the only economic provider of the family. When both men and women share responsibilities families can also improve their production at all levels. Farmers with access to our biodigesters have improved their crop productions with the fertilizer produced, they can fertilize from 5 to more than 190 hectares a year without compromising their money and their health as this is an organic fertilizer.
4. Health improvement. Cooking alternatives are useful in rural areas, female farmers usually need to collect and cook with firewood, this compromises their health due to the toxins inhaled. With our biogas, we can ensure universal access to modern energy services that don’t affect their health and thus they don’t have to worry about paying medical bills or losing money due to the impossibility of working the field during sickness periods.
5. When women have access to negotiation roles it can impact in a positive way to increase business performance. For this, they must have access to developing their skills and having the knowledge and training to make products with higher quality. Whenever we install a new biodigester, we make sure we include the whole family in the process so they can have the same possibility to manipulate the product and to engage with the production processes of the farm.
6. Food security of the communities is also a benefit related to the participation of women in the agricultural labor market, as it alleviates the poverty of a large number of household, this has an impact on the food security of their communities, for example, just in Latin America and the Caribbean, women produce 45% of the food consumed at home.
These are just some of the most notable impacts of women empowerment, this year’s theme for the IWD is “think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. In Sistema.bio we are aware of all the barriers and challenges that women face in the agricultural sector and not only that, we are also developing gender research and employing strategies to give back the power that women deserve. As a company compromised with social impact, we want to give easy access to agriculture and energy solutions to achieve a gender-balanced way of farming.