VOICES

Empowering Women in Agriculture- tackling rural poverty and malnutrition

Women make up almost half of the farmers in developing countries and contribute 43% to the agricultural labor force.

Women also bear the double burden of unpaid domestic work.

Entrenched in the fabrics of society are social norms which directly or indirectly ensure and contribute to marginality of women in developing countries.

From an agricultural standpoint women in developing countries lack access to finance, input, education, Extension services and in most cases the land tenure system is skewed and unfavorable to the women.

This marginalization and discrimination greatly reduces our ability to increase agricultural productivity, reduce rural poverty, ensure food security, and accelerate economic growth in rural areas.

In terms of agricultural productivity women lack of access to productive resources like their male counterpart as highlighted above causes a 20-30% Lower yield on their farms and in cases when against all odds they happen to start small Agribusiness enterprises they lack the much needed support to scale such enterprises

Women while responsible for other activities which are critical to food nutrition and security as they decide what meals will be prepared, how diets are varied and through breastfeeding ensure healthy balance and nourishment of infants. Yet women and girls consist of 60% of the worlds chronically hungry and in other cases are vulnerable to hidden hunger.

Empowerment of women has the ability to improve agricultural productivity by 30% hence ensuring poverty reduction benefits by availing of resources for farm families to leverage in rising out hunger and severe poverty.

Statistics has shown that women invest 90cents of every $1 back into their families compared to 30-40 cents invested by men.

This shows that increased investment in women’s would lead to improved quality of lives for their families especially their children, as they take priority to pay children school fees, will purchase nutritious food and ensure preventive health practices as immunization.

Education of women is also very pivotal as a 25- year study of developing countries has shown that women education contributed to 43% of the reduction of child malnutrition over time.

Women empowerment is critical if Africa and indeed the world would achieve our goal of a zero hunger and food secure generation among other goals. Women having a seat at the table to share their voice, solution and perspective on issues would greatly accelerate development and activation of the potential of rural economies.

There are a few touchpoints that illustrates what needs to be done an example is the African Development Bank $300 million USD , Afirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative which addresses financing gaps and access to finance challenges faced by women entrepreneurs including those operating along the agricultural value chain.

Similarly is CARE pathway women empowerment program in Agriculture in Malawi.

However more still needs to be done organizationally, nationally, continentally and globally to empower and productively raise the level of women participation in agriculture in Africa as they play a critical role in shaping our future.

maduka

An agricultural communicator, development expert, agrojournalist. Passionate about changing the existing narrative of the agricultural sector

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