The GENDER imbalance was described as an important factor contributing to the development of agriculture in Africa, which holds back progress in ending hunger.
This was announced by José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at a joint meeting with the African Union (AU) at the recently held United Nations General Assembly in the United States.
Da Silva said: “We need to better recognize and use the fundamental contribution of women to food security and nutrition. To do this, we must close the remaining gender gaps in agriculture in Africa. ”
He called for improved representation of women in governance and decision-making processes, as well as adequate and equal access to land, financial resources, social protection programs, services and opportunities for women in rural areas.
The regional perspectives on gender and agri-food systems that were presented at the event were based on an extensive review of existing statistics, gender audits of 38 national investment plans for agriculture and in-depth country gender assessments conducted in 40 countries.
The study’s recommendations call for a “gender data revolution” in the agri-food sector to inform sensible policies and programs and raise gender criteria for planning, monitoring and reporting.
“We need to implement gender targeted programs to address the specific vulnerability of women, as well as their key role in nutrition and resilience to life,” said Da Silva.
“Evidence shows that when women are empowered, farms are more productive, natural resources are better managed, nutrition improves, and livelihoods are safer,” he added.
In some African countries, women constitute up to 60 percent of the labor force in the family economy. They are largely responsible for agricultural activities, such as growing vegetables, preserving crops, and growing small ruminants, such as sheep and goats. Women are also responsible for family nutrition through cooking.
If women have the same access to skills, resources and opportunities as men, they can become powerful driving forces in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Women's empowerment in agriculture, value chains and trade will accelerate the achievement of Malabo's commitments and sustainable development goals.
The women of the United Nations recently praised FAO for its achievements so far in the field of gender equality. In 2017, FAO met or exceeded 93 percent of all performance indicators under the UN System-wide Action Plan for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
“FAO recognizes the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women, both within the Organization and in our work, where gender is a key priority. We know that when women have the authority to make decisions, all the benefits of society, ”said FAO Deputy Director General Maria Helena Semedo.
FAO and partners provide technical support to many African countries to empower rural women. One example is the Cooperative Program to Accelerate Progress in the Economic Empowerment of Women in Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria and Rwanda, under the framework of the World Food Program, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and UN Women.
The program has already allowed more than 40,000 women to undergo training in improving agricultural technology and is focused on expanding access to financial services and markets.