Exports make room for female work in agriculture – 03/06/2023 – Vaivém

Brazil exported 8.4 million tons of meat last year, a volume 13% higher than in 2020 and 9% higher than in 2021. Revenues, which reached US$ 26 billion, are 50% higher than in 2020 and 29% those of 2021.

The development of this sector has also been important for improving the participation of women in agribusiness. Last year, they represented 17% of the workforce in the livestock sector within the gate —considering services in the field.

In the poultry sector, national leader in protein exports, the presence of women added up to 36% of the workforce; in pig farming, 27%; and, in cattle production, 14%.

In the meat industrial chain, the female presence is also important, reaching 36% in animal slaughter and 46% in the dairy sector.

The data are part of a survey of the female labor market in agribusiness carried out by Cepea (Center for Advanced Studies in Applied Economics).

Cepea evaluates the sector including data on production within the gate, inputs, agroindustry and agroservice.

In 2022, agribusiness employed 19 million workers in its various sectors. Women occupied 5.9 million, 31% of them, according to Nicole Rennó, a researcher at Cepea and responsible for preparing the data.

The participation of women in employment and income has been growing in the sector, but there are still many challenges for gender balance. This presence will become stronger, but there is still a lot to do in terms of positions and salaries, says the researcher.

In 2012, 9.3% of leadership or management positions in primary production were held by women. Last year, it was 14%.

Nicole’s data indicate that agro-service is the sector with the highest participation of women in the agribusiness sector. They account for 42% of the workforce in this segment. Next comes agribusiness, with 37%.

The work inside the gate, called primary and which sometimes requires more brute force, has the participation of 20% of women. In some segments of this primary sector, however, they have a very strong presence, according to Nicole.

Primary tobacco production, which employs 243,000 workers, has 95,500 women, 39% of the activity’s workforce.

The female presence is also important in the segments of flowers, ornamental plants, horticulture and grape harvesting, according to the researcher. In all of them, women’s participation is close to one third.

Within the gate, the female presence in cereal production is still quite restricted, with only 15% of the national activity. It is even smaller in sugarcane production, where the 22,000 women, out of a universe of 315,000 workers in the sector, represent just 7%.

Nicole says that the participation of women in soy, the crop that leads the national production of grains, has been increasing and is at 17%. Soybean crops make room because they advance year after year and already total 44 million hectares planted, with projected production for this crop close to 150 million tons.

If the good performance of the foreign market favors the participation of women in agribusiness, the internal recession experienced by the country in recent years hinders, says Nicole.

Women account for 77% of the labor force in the apparel and accessories sector, which has not been doing well lately due to the fall in internal income and external competition.

The Cepea study shows that, of the 42 million women employed in the country, 5.9 million are in agribusiness, which indicates a female participation of 14% in the total. Considering only the 19 million people employed in agribusiness, female participation is 31% in the sector.

Agroservices and agribusiness concentrate the highest percentage of female workers. The agro-industry ends up serving as an income increase for the family. When the industry is nearby, the man takes care of field activities and the woman seeks employment in the agro-industrial sector, says the researcher


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