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If She Works, She Has a Say: Mali Women Deserve Own Land

When someone does the work, they expect to be compensated fairly.

In the United States, a perpetual issue of debate is the pay gap between men and women. In the West African country Mali, however, the conversation revolves around the disparity between male and female agricultural land ownership

This unequal playing field between men and women farmers in Mali highlights the positive impact that opportunity can have for general economic success of the country by satisfying and inspiring its constituents to work hard.

Mali’s labor force is mostly agricultural with popular exports such as cotton, rice, corn, and peanuts, as well as livestock like cattle, sheep, and goats. Women farmers make up just over half of all agriculture workers in Mali. They endure the labor and know the land, yet lack the opportunity to possess their own land or have access to markets.

As a result of these limitations, women often do not make much of a profit for themselves or their family, forcing them into a never-ending cycle of poor socio-economic standing while the gender hierarchy remains in place.

But recently, because of the effect climate change is having on crops, Mali officials alongside UN Women have been trying to close the gender gap by implementing new farming methods in hopes of increasing the agricultural knowledge of women farmers. The aim is to provide women with a combination of skills, training, and access to modern technology in order to give them the opportunities they need to become independent.

The movement is similar to one in India where women challenged tradition by forming all-female collective farming plots.

“We want to modernize our agriculture by using digital tools to identify crops and follow how these crops are faring,” said Arouna Modibo Touré, minister of digital economy in Mali. “Climate-smart agriculture is moving forward in Mali, and women are working hard to address climate change.”

Mali officials plan to empower women through climate-smart agriculture approaches by modernizing farming techniques, such as implementing the use of biopesticides to reduce crop damage.  

Currently, Mali is among the 15 poorest countries in the world, and coupled with the fact that women often can’t own land without a husband, it currently doesn’t leave much room for eventual financial success.


Women in agriculture who aren’t able to own land are being denied the inherent human right to control one’s own livelihood. When marginalized groups are provided with opportunities and rights, that incentive can act as an efficient economic catalyst for empowerment.

Featured Image by Ralf Steinberger on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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