Gender and the UNCCD
In many of the world’s dry agricultural areas, including much of Africa, women traditionally devote the most time and effort to the land.
Women in drylands make crucial contributions to agriculture and rural processes in animal husbandry and as farmers, workers and entrepreneurs. Their roles vary across regions, but in every part of the world women face gender-specific constraints that reduce their productivity and limit their potential contributions to agricultural production, economic growth and the wellbeing of their families, communities and countries.
While women’s role in agriculture is often under estimated, so too is their vulnerability the impacts of impacts of desertification, land degradation and drought. In times of crisis, women and children are often the last to leave their land.
Closing the gender gap in agricultural yields could benefit as much as 100–150 million people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization publication, The State of Food and Agriculture 2010–2011. The yield gap between men and women averages approximately 20–30 per cent and most research finds that this gap is due to differences in resource use. Bringing yields on land farmed by women up to the levels achieved by men would increase agricultural output in developing countries by between 2.5 and 4 percent. Such an increase in output could reduce the number of malnourished people in the world by 12–17 percent.
The range of measures often emphasized in gendered efforts to reverse desertification and land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought (DLDD) include: improving the participation of women in decision-making, building the capacity of women’s organizations, eliminating illiteracy among women, minimizing the heavy workload on women and eliminating gender disparities in employment and in the access to and ownership of resources.