Gender Gap Holds Back Africa’s Women Farmers


buy more about geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>“Levelling the Field: Improving Opportunities for Women Farmers in Africa” delves into the scale and causes of the striking differences between how much men and women farmers produce in six African countries– Ethiopia, doctor Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda– which together make up more than 40 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population.

The report, the first of its kind with access to better data and new approaches to analyzing gender gaps, reveals deep rooted inequalities in African agriculture, identifies factors holding back women farmers, and sets out concrete actions that policy makers can take to reduce inequality.

In the six countries profiled, the report found that productivity on womens’ farms is significantly lower per hectare compared to men, ranging from 13 percent in Uganda to 25 percent in Malawi.

Even though women make up a large share of Africa’s farmers, they tend to be locked out of land ownership, access to credit and productive farm inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and farming tools, support from extension services, and access to markets and other factors essential to their productivity.

The report also found that equal access to resources such as fertilizer, farm labour and training does not always translate into equal returns for women farmers.

Closing the gender gap could help reduce hunger and improve livelihoods for Africa’s growing population, which is expected to quadruple within the next 90 years.

If women worldwide had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent and raise total agricultural output by 2.5–4 percent.

Gains in agricultural production alone could lift 100 to 150 million people out of hunger, according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate.

Enabling women farmers to be more productive may also benefit Africa’s next generation–families in which women influence economic decisions allocate more income to food, health, education and children’s nutrition. Improving gender equality through agriculture could therefore translate into a generation of Africans who are better fed, better educated and better equipped to make productive contributions to their economies, within agriculture and beyond.

To narrow the gender gap, the report calls for African governments to address key policy areas which will help empower women farmers.

These include the following:

Strengthen women’s land rights

Improve women’s access to hired labour

Enhance women’s use of tools and equipment that reduce the amount of labour they need on the farm

Provide community-based child care centres

Encourage women to use more, higher quality fertilizer

Increase women’s use of good quality seeds

Tailor training to women’s needs and use social networks to spread agricultural knowledge

Promote the cultivation of high-value and cash crops to women farmers

Help women access and participate in markets

Improve the education levels of women farmers

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