According to the FAO in its 2010-11 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture report, if women in rural areas had the same access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets as men, agricultural production could be increased and the number of hungry people reduced by 100-150 million.
The report found that yields on plots managed by women are lower than those managed by men. The study found that women simply do not have the same access to inputs. If they did, their yields would go up, they would produce more and overall agricultural production would increase, the report said.
Women make up on average 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, ranging from 20% in Latin America to almost 50% in East and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The share is higher in some countries and varies greatly within countries.
Where rural women are employed, they tend to be segregated into lower paid occupations and are more likely to be in less secure forms of employment, such as seasonal, part-time or low-wage jobs.
One positive finding concerns new jobs; high-value export-oriented agro-industries offer better opportunities for women than traditional agriculture, according to the report.