CARE’s Pathways Program is based on the conviction that women farmers possess enormous potential to contribute to long-term food security for their families and substantially impact nutritional outcomes in sustainable ways.


Smallholder agriculture sits at the core of the economy in many of the world’s poorest countries. The sector represents a great opportunity as well as perpetual challenges, inhibiting poverty reduction and reinforcing food insecurity and hunger. A combination of agricultural, environmental, social and economic constraints lead to a world in which seven out of 10 hungry people are either smallholder producers or agricultural laborers and nearly 500 million people across Africa and India are struggling to combat declining agricultural productivity[1],[2].

The picture of both opportunity and hunger is decidedly female.

In many African countries, women provide 60-80 percent of agricultural labor, producing food for their households and the market. Yet, 90% of agricultural credit is accessed by men and, women own less than 2 percent of the world’s land[3][4].  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN estimates that disparities like these lead to a 20-30% gap between what men and women farmers are able to produce. By simply ensuring that female farmers have access to the same resources as their male counterparts, the number of undernourished people globally could be reduced by 100-150 million – 12-17% of all undernourished people on the planet.

Beyond this, CARE’s experience as well as evidence from a range of sources demonstrate that women farmers are routinely paid less than men for their agricultural labor, carry a disproportionate share of household workloads, are often excluded from agricultural decision making and are under-represented in agricultural organizations. The net impact of these barriers is a systematic gap between women’s potential contributions to food security and household resilience and what they are able to achieve today. Pathways is designed to change that.


CARE’s Pathways Program is based on the conviction that women farmers possess enormous potential to contribute to long-term food security for their families and substantially impact nutritional outcomes in sustainable ways. The program builds on CARE’s expertise in smallholder agriculture, financial inclusion, nutrition, women’s empowerment and market engagement. Working in partnership with others, Pathways promotes transformative change in women’s live and the lives of their families by combining and expanding upon the best of what we know.


The Pathways goal is to increase the productivity and empowerment of women farmers in more equitable agriculture systems at scale. Specific objectives include increasing the productivity and empowerment of 50,000 poor women farmers in sustainable and equitable agricultural systems; enhancing the scale of high-quality women-responsive agricultural programming within and beyond CARE; and influencing debates and policy dialog on women and agriculture at local, national and global levels. The program design is guided by a consistent Theory of Change  derived from in-depth analysis of barriers facing women farmers in the countries of implementation and beyond.

Program Overview

To learn more about Pathways, download the Program Overview document available in English or French.

Want to learn more about our work in Food and Nutrition Security?  Check out www.care.org

Contact Us

To stay connected with Pathways, send us a message here or keep up to date on our progress by signing up for our mailing list:

 Read about our Partnerships here.

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[1] P. Sainath, 2009, “The Largest Wave of Suicides in History: Neo-Liberal Terrorism in India”, CounterPunch, 12 February 2009 as cited in ActoinAid, 2009, Who’s Really Fighting Hunger? ActionAid’s HungerFREE Scorecard Investigates why a Billion People are Hungry.
[2] EurekAlert 2010, “In a changing climate, erratic rainfall posses growing threat to rural poor, new report says,” http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/News_Room/pdf/RDMAG-In_a_changing_climate_erratic_rainfall_poses_growing_threat_to_rural_poor.pdf.
[3] Women and Sustainable Food Security. Women in Development Service (SDWW), FAO Women and Population Division. http://www.fao.org/SD/FSdirect/FBdirect/FSP001.htm
[4] FAO, “Gender and food security: agriculture”, http://www.fao.org/gender/en/agri-e.htm as cited by: Steinzor, S., 2003, Women’s Property and Inheritance Rights: Improving Lives in Changing Ties, Washington DC: Development Alternatives, Inc.
[5] The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-2011, Women in Agriculture, Closing the gender gap for development, FAO Economic and Social Development Department

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