Table of Contents

Handbook of the International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food

Handbook of the International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food

Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series

Edited by Alessandro Bonanno and Lawrence Busch

This book tackles the central question of the political and structural changes and characteristics that govern agriculture and food. Original contributions explore this highly globalized economic sector by analyzing salient geographical regions and substantive topics. Along with chapters that investigate agri-food in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Oceania, the book includes contributions that cover topics such as labor, science and technology, the financialization of agri-food, and supermarkets.

Chapter 17: Gender and the international political economy of agri-food

Carolyn Sachs

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, environment, agricultural economics, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, political economy


Gender relations are key to agriculture and the political economy of food. Gender inequalities in employment, land ownership, access to technology, and access to markets disadvantages women, their families, and lessens food security. Understanding how these gender equalities shift with changes in the political economy of agri-food systems is important for scholars and policy makers. Women provide much of the labor in agriculture in many regions of the world. Measuring the exact contribution of women and men as agricultural workers is difficult due to a number of factors such as poor sex-disaggregated data availability (Deere 2005), undercounting of women’s work on family farms, and undercounting of casual or unauthorized workers. The most recent data suggests that women comprise 43 percent of the global agricultural labor force (FAO 2010) (see Table 17.1). Regions with the highest proportion of women agricultural workers are Sub-Saharan Africa (48.7 percent), Northern Africa (42.8 percent), and Asia (41 percent). Women comprise a smaller percentage of agricultural workers in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and North America.

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