Viewpoint: Melinda Gates: How I Learned to See Agriculture (And Everything Else) as a Gender Issue
By Melinda Gates
It was some of the best advice I’ve ever received — but at the time, it caught me off-guard.
When our foundation was only a few years old, the former head of the World Food Programme told a colleague of mine, “If the foundation doesn’t pay attention to the gender differences in agriculture, you will do what many others have done in the past, which is waste your money. The only difference will be you’ll waste a lot more.”
Bill and I started our foundation to fight poverty and disease around the world. We invest in agriculture because roughly 75% of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas, and the majority of them rely on agriculture or farming for their livelihoods. Making their farms more productive can help them eat more, earn more and live better lives.
I’m embarrassed to say it now, but at the time, I wasn’t thinking much about gender inequalities in connection to our anti-poverty work. I definitely wasn’t thinking about them in relation to agriculture. I bet if you’d asked me to close my eyes and picture one of the farmers we were trying to reach, I would’ve pictured a man.
Photo courtesy of DFID.
Source: CNN (link opens in a new window)