Agriculture is often regarded as a male-dominated occupation – mostly, when we use the word “farmer”, we think of men. However, most people don’t realize that the role of women in agriculture is no less significant. In fact, women comprise an average 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries and almost 50% in parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (FAO, 2012). The use of drip irrigation helps transform the role that women play in society by enabling women to achieve financial independence as farmers, or lightening the burden of work to empower women to improve the quality of life for families and communities.
UN SDG Goal 5 is an intention to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” It is supported by 6 targets that include ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, ensuring full participation of women in economic, political and social life and giving women equal right to economic resources. Adoption of drip irrigation helps achieve these targets.
One example of the connection between women’s empowerment and drip irrigation can be found in the work we have been doing in Kenya. In 2013, we partnered with our Kenyan distributor to advance a two-year “Financing Drip Irrigation Systems” project to improve access to drip irrigation. This is part of a USAID-funded framework, “Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation Program”. The initiative provides training for smallholder farmers to improve yields and crop efficiency and offers access to specially developed Netafim Family Drip System (FDS™) units with micro financing availability. A key condition of this initiative is that at least half of all trainees in the program must be women. Since the launch, 5,000 farmers have received training and 500 farmers purchased the FDS™ kit. This means that 2,500 women have gained a foothold to economic empowerment as independent small holder farmers, transforming the quality of life in their communities in Kenya.
Read more posts in our “Advancing the SDGs” series.