As documented over the years, gender disparity in Africa is one of the hindrance of achieving sustainable economic growth, reduction of poverty thus curtailing widespread prosperity for everyone in the continent.
According to a report done by UN Women, the Joint UNDP-UNEP Environment Initiative and the World Bank shows that gender disparity in access to productive and financial resources inhibits agricultural productivity hence food insecurity.
The report articulates that gender gap in agriculture exists because women have unequal access to key factors of production such as land, labour, knowledge, fertilizer and improved seeds.
Making her presentation during the TICAD VI side event for female vice chancellors from Universities in Africa, Dr. Torkelsson Asa, Economic Empowerment Advisor, UN Women said gender disparity in agriculture persists because challenges facing women farmers are still inadequately tackled in agricultural policy strategy and programs.
She acknowledged that UN Women could not tackle the problem alone and going forward, collaboration with academia in research was inevitable for the gap to be bridged.
In a bid to promote empowerment of women in agriculture, Dr. Asa said UN Women is working to build and strengthen women resilience in agricultural productivity.
“UN Women is working to promote women financial inclusion and entrepreneurship development,” said Dr. Asa.
In an effort to ensure gender equity especially in agricultural productivity, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has partnered with UN Women in post-harvest technology programme for mango farmers in Kenya dubbed ‘Increasing Access of Post-Harvest Technologies for Women Farmers’.
The programme aims to increase agricultural productivity, reduce post-harvest losses, lower women domestic care burden and enhance food security in Kenya. It not only enhances the mechanisation of agriculture but also shows the transformative role technology adoption play in fundamentally shifting the role of women farmers in agriculture.
Dr. Wanjiru Kamau, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Director urged the professors in the room to mentor young women in agricultural research so as to increase women representation in agricultural research development.
“Only one in four agricultural researchers in Africa is female,” said Dr. Wanjiru adding that mentorship is critical and has proven to be a powerful driver for career development particularly in retaining and recruiting women in science.
Dr. Wanjiru said AWARD has debunked the myth that there are no African women agricultural researchers and since the program began in 2008, it has received over 4,000 applications.
“I am confident that with fora such as this, the number of women in agricultural research will definitely increase aiding in economic empowerment and development of our societies,” said Dr. Wanjiru.