Empowering Women Through Soybean Farming

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The Soybean Innovation Lab is assessing issues of gender equity and the role of women within sustainable soybean systems. One of the goals is to understand gender inequalities in the agriculture sector to help transition rural women, their families and communities toward improved food security, health and economic development.

This work is the first of its kind to address the challenges facing smallholder soybean farmers. It is also among the first to identify the role of women in the soybean value chain, which is vital because soybean is primarily a commercial, non-native, labor-intensive crop.

Soybean Innovation Lab researchers are using the Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) to study the effect of gender on soybean adoption in Ghana and Mozambique. The WEAI is a survey-based index designed to measure women’s empowerment and inclusion levels in the agricultural sector. 

The researchers adapted the WEAI to include two soy-focused survey modules, designed to capture farmers’ past experiences with soybean production; seed access; varieties planted; use of phosphorous fertilizer and pesticide; planting methods; and use of and access to inoculum, which promotes nitrogen fixation, critical for high soybean yields. 

The Survey results will inform research program developers and investigators on important issues of gender equity and access, and provide guidance regarding how policy actions can increase women’s empowerment in soybean production.

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Dr. Kathleen Ragsdale 
Dr. Jill Findeis