How can migration-induced feminization of agriculture empower women in the dry areas?
- Increasing migration of people out of the world’s dryland areas affects women’s roles in agriculture and related activities, which in turn affects their productivity and gender equity.
- Women are performing more farm labor in agrarian societies due to the increasing outmigration of men, and this feminization of agricultural labor and management seems to have more drawbacks than benefits for women.
- Opportunities exist for social and economic policy interventions to leverage the increasing participation of women in dryland agriculture to improve women’s livelihoods.
Drylands are home for most of the world’s people but are degraded, so many men migrate elsewhere.
Two-thirds of the world’s people live in deserts and dry areas, which together are known as drylands. Agriculture in these communities is significantly changing because of irrigation, extreme effects of climate change, globalization and decreasing food production.
People often migrate away from their communities because farming resources are degraded—and this affects who works, what paid or unpaid work they do, how agriculture is managed, who makes farming decisions and what choices they make.
Not only do the difficulties “push” people to migrate away, but better transport and paid work elsewhere provide a “pull” factor as well.
This process, called outmigration, is much more common for men and has led to a strong feminization of agriculture in the drylands. In a recent systematic review of literature, we examined the effects of male outmigration on the feminization of agrarian dryland economies.