Women in Agriculture Say Barriers to Equality Persist, Removal Could Take Decades, Study Reveals

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In a 2018 study conducted by Corteva Agriscience, women say they see progress but that it’s too slow. In addition to citing financial disparities, fewer than half feel acknowledged, heard, or empowered to make decisions.

Women in agriculture around the world, whether in developing or developed countries, say widespread gender discrimination persists and poses obstacles to their ability to help feed the world, according to a Corteva study that was released to coincide with the celebration of the International Day of Rural Women in 2018. Corteva commissioned the 17-country study to underscore the importance of women in agriculture and to identify barriers to their full and successful participation. The study included 4,160 respondents living in both the developed and developing world on five different continents.

This study sought to further understand the status of women farmers around the world — from the largest farms in the most advanced economies to the smallest subsistence farms in the developing world — and to create a baseline from which to measure progress going forward.


The survey’s findings reveal that, although women are overwhelmingly proud to be in agriculture, they perceive gender discrimination as widespread, ranging from 78 percent in India to 52 percent in the United States. Only half surveyed say they are equally successful as their male counterparts; 42 percent say they have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, and only 38 percent say they are empowered to make decisions about how income is used in farming and agriculture.

Almost 40 percent of the respondents reported lower income than men and less access to financing. High on the list of concerns were financial stability, the welfare of their families and achieving a work/life balance.

Many women surveyed said they need more training to take advantage of the agricultural technology that has become essential for financial success and environmental stewardship. This desire for training emerged as the most commonly cited need among the respondents for removing gender inequality obstacles. The numbers significantly exceeded 50 percent for all 17 countries, with Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico and South Africa leading the way.


The majority of women surveyed reported progress toward gender equality, but 72 percent said it would take one to three decades or more to achieve full equality. Five key actions, according to the respondents, were identified to remove obstacles to equality:

  • More training in technology (cited by 80 percent)
  • More academic education (cited by 79 percent)
  • More support – legal and otherwise – to help women in agriculture who experience gender discrimination (cited by 76 percent)
  • Raise the public’s awareness of the success women are achieving in agriculture (cited by 75 percent)
  • Raise the public’s awareness of gender discrimination in agriculture (cited by 74 percent)

Women make up almost half of the world’s farmers, and this study validates that challenges continue to persist, holding back not only the women in agriculture but also the people who depend on them: their families, their communities, and society.


  • Conducted between August and September 2018.
  • Approximately 4,160 respondents from 17 countries spread across Asia Pacific (24 percent), North America (21 percent), Latin America (21 percent), Europe (19 percent) and Africa (15 percent).
  • Most of the women were engaged in crop farming, with others engaged in a variety of other farming and related agricultural pursuits.
  • The farms ranged from small subsistence farms to enterprises with more than 300 employees.
  • Roles ranged from owners and managers to employees and workers.
  • Average age of respondents is 34 years old.
  • Countries surveyed: APAC – China, India, Indonesia, Australia; NA – U.S., Canada; LATAM - Brazil, Mexico, Argentina; EUROPE – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK; AFRICA - Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa