Published November 09, 2009 @ 06:00AM PT
“Consider the daily life of the world’s typical small farmer,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the closing session of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in September. “She lives in a rural village in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, or Latin America.”
That’s right: women grow more than half of the world’s food and the lion’s share (as much as 80 percent) of the food in developing countries, reports the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Despite their majority contribution, however, women only own 2 percent of the world’s land, according to UN WomenWatch. Around the world, women are deprived of legal rights to the land they toil over day after day.
Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, pointed out to me that this is a bigger problem than simple unfairness. “We cannot address environmental issues, sustainable farming issues, industrial agriculture issues, food crisis, if we are going to ignore [the fact that women are over 80 percent of the world's farmers and they own about 2 percent of land in the world],” she said. “How can you have a policy that ignores the people that are doing the work on a daily basis?”
That’s why Rural Development Institute (RDI), an NGO that focuses on helping farmers in developing countries procure legal land rights, is launching a new Global Center for Women’s Land Rights, according to a press release. The center will research and advocate for policies that will help women gain legal access to their land.