Investing in women means investing in sustainable development

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IRRI Gender and Livelihoods Unit Lead, Dr. Jummai Yila elaborates on the critical role of IRRI in accelerating progress to achieve social equity and sustainable development by investing in women and girls in science and agriculture.

08 MARCH 2024 – According to UN Women, it will take another 286 years before the legal frameworks can be reformed to enable total gender equality. If this continues, more than 340 million women and girls will live in poverty by 2030, and 1 in 4 women will experience moderate or severe food insecurity. So for this year, “Invest in women: Accelerate progress” is the 2024 International Women’s Day rallying theme which aims to escalate efforts toward a healthier and more equal world for all by prioritizing gender-responsive financing at all levels.

In a 2023 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 36% of women and 38% of men from all over the world work in agrifood systems, yet gender productivity, labor, and wage gaps remain. This highlights the issue that women are yet to be given priority in research and development initiatives. This lack of strategic focus has slowed and undermined the progress and impact of the institution in the lives of women in the rice value chain.

Historically, women have played a significant role in rice production, processing, and marketing and are responsible for major activities in each segment of the rice value chain. Akter et al. (2017) stated that men and women in Southeast Asian countries have similar levels of access to land and production inputs yet gender productivity gaps remain. This means that women are more likely to be burdened with a lack of access to education, food, just compensation, and employment opportunities despite providing…

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