The core of agricultural production is usually in rural areas where there is availability of land for farming. Rural women are highly engaged in agriculture and play critical roles across good systems unfortunately they continue to be disproportionately poor and financially underserved with only few financial service providers responding to their specific needs.
How can rural women be supported to increase their incomes and resilience?
- Increasing women’s returns to labour
Women face competing demands on their time and unequal access to resources such as land and inputs. It is therefore important for them to access hired labour especially during key points of production such as planting and harvest which is often a challenge due to lack of cash on hand to pay workers and social normal that discourage them from hiring men.
Tailored financial services can help women access cash, savings and credit they need to more easily hire and pay workers, particularly if combined with non-financial supports like agents who can help connect women farmers with hired labor
2. Access to markets
Women are often excluded from market activities and their family’s agricultural income; many prefer to work on other farms, as they may have more control over their earnings there. Financial services that allow women to connect to and transact within local and digital markets are important for improving women’s returns to their labor and investments.
Digital platforms designed for agriculture can help women connect with new buyers and more active markets. They can also help women to purchase farm supplies and inputs, obtain production information and support, hire transport companies, and access a range of financial services. Agtech platforms open enormous opportunities to small-scale growers but require mobile phone ownership, internet access and a level of digital fluency that many women do not have. Women make up just 25% of registered users of agtech platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa.
There is a need for digital platforms to tailor their financial and non-financial services to women’s needs and aspirations from the start, not “later, when we get to scale.” It will also be important to explore how trusted community leaders, service providers and local markets can leverage digital platforms for rural women and help them leap over the digital divide.
The blog has been published by Jamie Anderson (CGAP). Read full blogpost at: https://www.cgap.org/blog/exploring-innovative-financial-services-rural-womens-livelihoods#.YGyurONurCM.twitter