Women play a vital role in Africas agricultural sector. As farmers, processors, and marketers of agricultural products, they contribute significantly to the continents economic development. However, they continue to face a lot of challenges such as lack of access to agricultural inputs, finance, land, information, and agricultural technologies. Although women provide 70 percent of agricultural labour on the continent, they remain underrepresented; they are not treated as equals of their male counterparts in the sectorwomen farmers face the burden of unpaid work as well as lower wages compared to men.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), gender-related challenges faced by women in agriculture hinder womens productivity, which reduces their contributions to the agricultural sector and the achievement of broader economic and social development goals. Similarly, a 2016 Africa Human Development Report suggests that gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa approximately $95 billion annually.
To enhance gender-responsive investments in African agriculture, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) convened a dialogue themed Gender-Responsive Investments in Africas Agriculture for Inclusive Food System to discuss game-changing solutions that will enhance gender-responsive investments in agricultural research for inclusive food systems on the continent. This took place on the 4th of May 2021. It was hosted by FARA jointly with the sub-regional organizations (ASARECA, CCARDESA, CORAF, and AFAAS), in partnership with the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD); as well as the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD).
Among others, the objectives of the meeting were to identify and discuss the main gender issues in African agriculture and propose solutions to a gender-inclusive private sector engagement as well as contribute towards a framework for advocating for increased investment in gender-responsive approaches in agricultural research for development.
Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of FARA, who welcomed participants to the meeting, said that women and youths are crucial in African agriculture, especially in the promotion of digital services and commercialization of research products. Hence, Dr. Akinbamijo called on stakeholders in African agriculture to advocate for gender-responsive investments in agriculture and the use of gender-smart approaches when engaging women and youth in agricultural research for development (AR4D). He noted that FARA is playing an active role in strengthening the capacities of AR4D institutions in Africa and in gender mainstreaming towards achieving the sustainable development goals.