LANSA Launches Short Animation Film on Women Agricultural Workers
As a part of its continuing efforts to bring focus on the linkages between agriculture and nutrition, LANSA has produced a short animation film (4 min) focusing on women agricultural workers. The film is being launched on 8 March 2017 to commemorate the International Women’s Day. The theme for IWD2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’.
LANSA, through its research, explores how agriculture and agri-food systems can be better designed to advance nutrition. The research focuses on policies, interventions and strategies that can improve the nutritional status of women and children in South Asia.
The video can be seen here (Link)
Women in agriculture – what does it mean for nutrition?
Half the world’s farmers are women and in South Asia the proportion is higher. In Afghanistan for example women farmers make up over 80% of the agricultural workforce. Women spend an equal amount of time in farming as men and do very labour intensive jobs. However they are often paid far less than their male counterparts.
In addition to the demanding agricultural labour, household domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning and carrying water and also childcare and care of the sick or elderly are seen almost exclusively as a woman’s job. Research from the LANSA programme shows that in India women tend to spend more than 4 hours per day on domestic and childcare activities in addition to their work in the fields.
This extra work burden has a number of significant consequences for the nutrition of women and their children. The scenario is similar in other South Asian countries.
The demanding work hours and physical labour contributes to the high proportion of women in South Asia who are underweight. LANSA research in Pakistan shows that women who work in agriculture were almost three times as likely to be underweight than women who were not working.
With their mothers spending much of their time in the fields, children are less likely to be fed regularly and thus children whose mothers work as farmers are more likely to be undernourished.
So what can be done?
LANSA evidence indicates that empowering women improves the nutritional status of their children.
For example, an empowered woman working in agriculture may improve her bargaining power within the household, giving her an increased role in household decision-making, with women more-likely to make positive choices around nutrition for themselves and their children.
For each of the LANSA focus countries, there are different challenges to be addressed. In Pakistan, women’s role in agriculture is largely unrecognised. Formal recognition of the contribution of women in the agricultural sector is needed along with policies which address the work/care trade-off.
In India, policies around women in agriculture do exist but are yet to be successfully implemented. There is also a motion to introduce women friendly tools to reduce some of the burden of labour intensive jobs.
In Bangladesh, women should be given full, equal access to and control over agricultural loans.
In all four countries, the provision of support services like ante and post-natal care and subsidised child care centres would lessen the burden on women in the agricultural labour force, paving the way for better maternal and child nutrition.