women in agriculture

Why does gender matter in Sustainable Land Management?



  • Women play an important role in Sub-Saharan African agriculture. They are responsible for the large brunt of household food production. In sub-Saharan Africa, women make up 49 percent of the workforce in agriculture.
  • Achieving gender equality in smallholder farming is not only a human rights issue but also a necessity to alleviate rural poverty and food insecurity.


About the publication


Soil degradation is a root cause of decelerated growth in agricultural productivity and continuous food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa. Decision-makers have recognized the urgency of halting land degradation and have subscribed to numerous large-scale landscape restoration initiatives, including AFR100, the Bonn Challenge, and the Regreening Africa initiative.

The TMG Think Tank analyzed 20 programmes and projects promoting sustainable land management (SLM) in Benin and Burkina Faso over the past 20 to 30 years which results showed female farmers have small participation and benefit less than male farmers from these programmes.


6 Key messages in making Sustainable Land Management (SLM) works for women smallholders


  1. Land tenure insecurity is a major obstacle for smallholder farmers wishing to invest in soil protection and rehabilitation. Securing access to land for those most affected by it – especially women, youth, and migrants – is crucial.
  2. Sustainable Land Management is labor-intensive. A lack of labor limits women in experimenting and applying a range of SLM technologies. Therefore, supporting farmer groups that pool labor is essential.
  3. Soil protection starts with knowledge. Gender-discriminatory norms, attitudes, and behaviors that limit women’s access to information need to be challenged.
  4. Women face more limitations than men in accessing agricultural equipment, credit, and inputs, leading to lower adoption rates of SLM technologies. Intra-household dynamics need to be understood in order to alleviate gender imbalances.
  5. Research is key for the design of gender-sensitive approaches, and comprehensive data collection is indispensable to track progress on gender indicators. But monitoring activities need to go beyond female participation ratios and other numeric measures to track progress toward gender equality.
  6. The persistent gender gap in agriculture can only be tackled through structural change by 2030. Giving women smallholder farmers equal opportunities is fundamental to reaching gender equality in agriculture and requires everyone’s involvement and commitment.

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Author: TMG

Publisher: TMG – Think Tank

Language: English

Year: 2019

Ecosystem(s): Agricultural Land

Location(s): Africa, Burkina Faso

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