Research study prioritizes food security and gender equity in Central America

  • Smallholder family farmers located in the dry corridor within the Trifinio Region, which comprehends the borders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, are part of the sample used to develop this EfD-CA and CATIE's research study

April 15, 2020. To provide policy makers and project managers with sound evidences regarding the importance of advancing women empowerment as a mediator to improve food security and nutrition outcomes at the household level, are some of the expected results of the research study titled Women economics empowerment as a pre-requisite to reach food security and nutrition outcomes: Evidences from Central America.

The lead researcher of this study is Leida Mercado, who is a senior researcher for Environment for Development Central America (EfD-CA) and for CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center). Her goal with this work is to better understand how empowering women, especially regarding their participation in economic decisions (productive, control over income and acmes to credit), contributes to improve food security and nutrition outcome at the household level. 

"Through my research I hope to contribute to enhance the knowledge about aspects that should be considered in the policy and institutional decisions regarding the improvement of gender equity and food security", mentioned Mercado. 

This is a relevant effort to provide information based in research results, especially when there is a trend in the agriculture sector, referred as "feminization of the agriculture", which indicates that the participation of women in the agricultural work is growing. 

"In the developing countries, women make up around 43% of the agricultural labor force and perform multiple roles, including commercial and self-consumption food crops production, tending to animals, processing and preparing food, and commercialization and marketing of agricultural products" explained the researcher. 

Because women play such relevant role in the different agricultural activities, they are in a good position to guarantee food for their families and contributing to economic development, especially in rural areas. However, recent studies developed in Honduras and Guatemala found that more than 50% of the rural women lack access to and decision power regarding the access to credit, and little to no control on the assets, two examples of how women are excluded. 

According to Mercado, advancing women empowerment is important, not only to advance gender equality, which represents a fundamental human right, but also, because it stimulates the productivity and the economic growth. 

The people considered in this research study belong to households headed by a woman or by couples, with different levels of education. The data set to be analyzed was collected during the second phase of the Mesoamerican Agroenvironmental Project (MAP), executed by CATIE, with funds from the Norwegian Government, in the Trifinio area, specifically in the shared territorial limits of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and in the central region of Nicaragua. 

Currently, the data sets and research instruments are being reviewed. Depending on how the current world health situation evolves, the results would be expected by the first trimestre of 2021. 

News | 8 May 2020