Access to natural resources, education, and income

Women and men in Burkina Faso stand around an engine on a table.
Women should have the same rights and opportunities as men in education. © SDC

Women play a key role in poverty reduction and food security in both rural and urban contexts. The SDC supports women in obtaining access to natural resources, vocational education and training, and markets, as well as other services.

SDC focus

The SDC is committed to empowering women in the area of food security. In its projects and strategies, the SDC sets the following priorities:

  • establishing gender equality in the context of access to resources with a particular focus on land governance
  • strengthening the economic situation for women through improved value chains and access to vocational education and training, markets, and other services
  • integrating gender-sensitive social welfare systems in rural economies.

Context

Women play a key role in poverty reduction and food security, because they are very active in agricultural production and rural economies. However, in many countries they face social and legal discrimination and have only limited access to land ownership and user rights, means of production, vocational education and training, and financial services.

In rural economies, most women work on family farms or in the informal sector, where the combination of long hours but low productivity generates only a low income. Women often work in low-income sectors, such as the textile industry, and under precarious working conditions. Their potential to contribute to food security, economic security, and development is not fully exploited.

Studies show the following two decisive factors for structural discrimination against women in economic development:

1.  multiple forms of discrimination based on religious, social, or ethnic affiliation

2.  the burden of unpaid household and care work, dictated by social norms and entrenched gender roles that are mostly carried out by women.

These factors reduce the opportunities for women to complete an education or pursue productive and paid work. They also limit access to social welfare systems, which is usually only available in the formal job sector and with a fixed income.