Egypt is currently suffering from a lack of food security and is relying on imports to provide many strategic food commodities such as wheat, sugar and oils. This exacerbates the problems of food subsidies, causes a deficit in the balance of payments, and results in the depletion of foreign exchange reserves.
The agricultural sector contributes about 15% of GDP, at the same time, of which approximately 57% of total population of rural areas where poverty prevails, also live 70% of the extreme poor in rural areas.
The agricultural sector 30% of the economically active population works in. And adopt a large number of rural households on agriculture and agricultural production. The generated income from agricultural production (livestock and crops) between 25-40% on average of the total rural income, and is a generated income from other activities other than the cultivation of crops and livestock.
As the result of a study conducted by the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, we have found the following :
- Working women in Egypt are the subject of much discriminations especially in Upper Egypt
- 87% of working women have cited the following issues:
- Issues related to the way they are perceived by society,
- Domestic violence;
- Safety and security issues when they are working alone or at night;
68% of women don’t know how to solve these problems
- Although women represent 20% of the workforce, women only own 6% of all land.
- Discrimination between women and men appears in the following cases:
- wage discrimination between men and women;
- lack of legal protection;
- absence of holidays for women with working hours exceeding seventeen hours a day;
- bearing the burdens of domestic work all without the help of men;
- distinguishing between male and female children in education; male children’s education is paid for while female children are neglected;
- early marriage for females;
- exposure to many forms of violence, including female genital mutilation and physical violence, and verbal insults;
- lack of ownership of agricultural property;
- difficulty in inheriting agricultural land, replaced with measly financial compensation; and
- a limited number of female rural representation in the boards of directors of agricultural cooperatives, private organizations, and water users.
The rural women living in the villages where the study was conducted are responsible for attaining food security for their families and bear an essential role in the agricultural and livestock production which is not limited to the role the production cycle, but in the marketing of products as well as in the maintenance of agricultural and human resources.
The three villages of the study, namely Asyut, Beni Suef, and Sohag, lack the existence of local markets for the sale of the sale of agricultural and animal products. Thus, the women are then forced to sell their products at low prices to wholesalers and local residents in villages, or expose themselves to the risks of the road and travel to the surrounding supermarkets.
Most farmers sell their products in a central market to wholesalers, but it is difficult for women to reach these markets without exposure to a large number of risks, including exposure to violence, verbal and physical cross-staff markets, loss of their product or part of it at the hands of staff during delivery process, as well as being exposed to all the dangers of moving at night.
Women are involved in all phases of agriculture. Even in the livestock sector, women are responsible for feeding, milking, and grazing animals, cleaning barns, and caring for newborns and poultry and rabbits. Vegetable cultivation depends mainly on the employment of women at all stages while men act as an assisting element only, however fruit cultivation depends on farmers from both genders but mainly on men and women as an assisting element.