Washington, DC - “Cultivating Equality in the Food System” and it focused on the interconnection of women farmers, sustainable global food production, and how we can better support these women and their tireless work.

As both a woman and a social entrepreneur, this issue is deeply personal. 

I’ve spent years traveling to more than 50 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America—meeting with women farmers and farmers’ groups, scientists and researchers, policymakers and government leaders, students and academics, and journalists collecting their thoughts on what’s working to help alleviate hunger and poverty, while also protecting the environment. 

Here’s what I’ve learned: women are indisputably the backbone of our global food system. 

Across the planet, women and girls play a huge role in producing, processing, marketing, and retailing food and other agricultural products, and combined with their traditional primary responsibility for preparing family meals and for child-care, in creating a well-nourished world. 

But get this: women make up more than half the world’s population and they make up nearly half of the world’s farmers BUT their contributions as farmers often go unnoticed and are almost universally ignored. 

Oftentimes, these working women are denied access to education, refused by banking and financial institutions, and ignored by extension agents and research organizations. They are still routinely discriminated against just because they’re women. Furthermore, while men typically produce cash or commodity crops that need to be processed into something else, women grow vegetables and fruits, and raise small livestock that nourish families. 

Today, I’m calling on all of us—the eaters of the world—to stand with and support our farming mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins and all the women who work with the earth to produce food.  

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, if women farmers had the same access to resources—land, credit, education, extension services—they could increase food production by 20-30 percent and lift as many as 150 million people out of hunger and food insecurity. 

It’s a no brainer for governments, corporations, NGOs, and individuals: investment in women farmers will help alleviate hunger and poverty and will lead to more social justice and empowerment for girls and women.  

To learn more about how to help these women truly succeed, I encourage you to read about women and agriculture at FoodTank.com, watch the video of my TedXManhattan presentation, and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, by following @DaniNierenberg and #FoodTank. 

I want to keep doing this much-needed work on behalf of women farmers, but I can’t do it alone. I need your help. If you are motivated by this issue and if you would like to see Food Tank produce more women-focused research, reports, data, and presentations, become a Food Tank Sustainer today.