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Women in agriculture

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“Agriculture engenders good sense, and a good sense of an excellent kind.” – Joseph Joubert.

Women represent upwards of 40 percent of the agricultural labor force globally. It grows more than we ever expected. This speaks of the importance of agriculture in relation to the food systems and the increasing demand. In the Philippines there are 55-60 percent of women in Philippine agriculture. In the same breath, this emphasizes of the importance of the role of women in agriculture.


This established fact simply means that women are more burdened than men on two outstanding aspects: social construct of a male dominated culture, and more importantly the women’s reproductive functions.

The social challenge of women is directly connected to their reproductive roles not only in agriculture but more importantly their role as a gender – in homes as a mother and wife of the family, in the community pinned as secondary to male dominated culture and practices on top of their agricultural responsibilities most commonly being secondary. A “double-whammy” can be an understatement in their difficulties.

Specifically, the social obstacles of women as far as agriculture is concerned are lack of access to land, financing, markets, training and education, suitable working conditions, and equal treatment. Female farmers are at a significant disadvantage before they ever engage in any agricultural activity.

Arguably, the biggest roadblock is the right to land. In developing countries including the Philippines only 10 to 20 percent of landholders are women, and in some parts of the world, women still cannot legally own or control land. This major challenge makes it impossible for women to enter into any contract farming agreements that are potential source of higher earnings and reliable sources of income.


Our social construct of a patriarchal tradition challenged women and their movements and inspired them to gain phenomenal breakthroughs on multiple societal facets. Historically, every right women has gained went through major struggles, including the Philippines as a developing country, where land rights for women takes tail-end. The struggle for land – its ownership and control of production are largely left to the decision of the men.

Over the years however, women were now involved in planning thus, making them part of the decision making process.

These struggles are significant because they come through legislations and policies. In effect, women are now integrated in major organizational and structural changes features from corporate world to farmers’ organizations. Moreover, reproductive roles of women are now being recognized and given importance in every endeavor they undertake beyond the confines of their homes and families.

In developing countries, the contribution of women in agricultural workforce is much higher than men. It must be noted that over one third of the world’s working women are employed in agri-food systems, which include the production of food and non-food agricultural products, as well as related activities from food storage, transportation and processing to distribution. In direct production, women grow much of the food for their families and communities and yet they own less than 15 per cent of the land.


Negros small agrarian reform beneficiaries and their associations it is observed that not less than 50 percent of membership in each organization are women. In their organizational structures up to the committee levels women are given due recognition if, not privilege. This is to say that women are essentially part of the decision making.

In land ownership, the department of agrarian reform not only recognizes heirship when the main beneficiary is deceased, but it honors spousal ownership that puts women in equal rights with their partners. And, decision-making is not only left to men but undergoes a “conjugal” process that cascades down to what should be the efforts that must be undertaken to the land they now own ensuring its productivity. Many farmers and ARB’s cooperatives have evolved whereby productivity is undertaken via a collective mode.

This process enables women as a group to undertake another level of approach not only for their survival but, for their evolution as individuals and as organizations.

Unraveling the women potential in agriculture – it can be said that l production can only be a springboard towards growth and development. Being more meticulous and patient as their innate virtues largely contribute to productivity and sustainability while ensuring their livelihood, food security and even food sovereignty.*


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September 2023

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