Understanding Women's Role in Urban Farming: Opportunities and Challenges

Understanding Women's Role in Urban Farming: Opportunities and Challenges

By: Navya | Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Urban farming increases women's contribution to family support, a sign of their increased social and economic empowerment. This article explores how urban farming has become a crucial component of women's survival strategies and the role gender plays in urban agriculture. .

The practise of growing, processing, and distributing food in or near urban areas is known as urban agriculture, urban farming, or urban gardening. In many cities in both developed and developing nations, it includes a complex and varied mix of food producing activities, including forests and fisheries.

The literature on urban agriculture reveals that due to rapid urbanisation, ineffective agricultural policies, a broken food distribution system, the removal of subsidies, the reduction of wages, inflation, civil unrest, unemployment, lax urban regulation, and drought, the practise has been growing since the late 1970s in many areas of the less developed countries. Modern Asian cities tend to have more sophisticated urban agriculture because they occasionally acknowledge and support food production as an essential urban function.

Women Choosing Urban Agriculture

Studies carried out in emerging nations have shown that women are increasingly choosing to work in the unorganised sector. Women dominate the informal sector, including urban agriculture, as a result of their socioeconomic status and traditional gender norms. As a result, urban farming has become a crucial component of women's survival strategies.

For women, urban agriculture is a feasible endeavour. Urban agriculture raised the socioeconomic standing of urban women despite receiving little attention as a form of land usage. Women engage in urban farming as a way to diversify their sources of income, to provide for their families' food needs, and for personal development. There are many ways in which urban agriculture raises the socioeconomic status of women. For instance, it gives individuals an opportunity to take part in decision-making, enhances their financial situation, and makes it possible for them to find independent employment.

Women in Urban Farming Contribute to Economic Development

Urban agriculture has improved the decision-making abilities of women. Although women should not be generalised as a homogeneous group due to socioeconomic level inequalities, decision-making on urban agriculture appears to cut-off these distinctions. This demonstrates that urban farming increases women's contribution to family support, a sign of their increased social and economic empowerment. Urban agriculture is an essential social empowerment tool since it allows women to contribute to household food requirements.

Women's work in urban food systems can be made legitimate by mainstreaming gender into urban agriculture systems and policy.It is possible to diversify employment and income alternatives even more, enhancing urban life during uncertain situations and boosting food security. Localized food production is likely to result in a rise in the consumption of fresh foods, improving diet and health. Communities will be strengthened and new ones will be formed as a result of community food initiatives that will promote social cohesiveness. Finally, turning underused urban landscapes into green spaces would immediately impact property value and aesthetic appeal while also helping to mitigate climate change.

We must also appreciate the extraordinary role that women play in our intricate urban food systems if we desire to embrace excellent, healthy, and fair food. We must support women in obtaining greater autonomy while promoting gender mainstreaming in planning and policy.

This entails assessing women's access to land resources, natural and financial capital, and agricultural extension services, as well as gendered labour divisions that may disadvantage women. It's crucial that individuals in positions of authority who choose to support such agendas carry out their support.

Obstacles Women Encounter in the Urban Farming Sector

Agricultural production issues faced by women farmers differ from farmer to farmer and from location to location. These include a lack of financing facilities, the issue of land ownership (small lots), agricultural inputs, a lack of formal education, insufficient access to extension services, and the issue of marketing middlemen. Other difficulties include poor roads, networks, and services, as well as storage and marketing issues.

The FAO estimates that 40to 45% of rural women work in farming in developing nations. And all of this is done without some of the advantages that male farmers enjoy. But what about the urban women who work tirelessly to produce food so that it may be distributed to the more than half of the world's population now living in urban environments? Urban and peri-urban residents struggle to engage in a system that frequently fails to support gender equality and the empowerment of women, just like rural women do.

Politics and Directives to Integrate Women Farmers in Urban Agriculture 

The advancement of agriculture and the accomplishment of sustainable development objectives depend on gender equality. To ensure women's participation at all levels and phases of agricultural decision-making, the Gender Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture should promote gender mainstreaming and gender equality by:

Facilitating women's access to and customization of agricultural services to meet their requirements; the selection and introduction of agricultural technology are gender-sensitive and responsive to gender-specific demands through working with key stakeholders; training of many agricultural stakeholders at the federal and state levels; creating platforms for gender equality and women at all levels;  enhancing collaborations and relationships with research institutions and detailed instructions and resources that show how to include women in the urban agriculture research study.

To cite one example, in March of this year, the Delhi government held sessions in all municipal wards to train women in urban farming.

In the following five years, the state will also add approximately 100,000 employment to the environmental sector, with 25,000 of those jobs going to women as part of the smart urban farming plan. In collaboration with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, the government will introduce the "Smart Urban Farming" concept.