Women empowerment has been identified as key to transforming agriculture in the continent.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presenting its report on Gender Equity at the 2016 African Economic Conference has said.
According to key findings in UNDP’s 2016 Africa Human Development Report (AfHDR) ‘Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa’ gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa about US$95 billion a year and hampers the continent’s efforts for inclusive human development and economic growth.
The report which was launched globally in Nairobi, Kenya, on the margins of the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), was presented at a special event held on the first day of the 2016 African Economic Conference (AEC) in Abuja.
The launch ceremony was preceded by a panel discussion moderated by UNDP Africa Chief Economist, Ayodele Odusola.
Panelists included Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa; Edward Kallon, UNDP Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative in Nigeria (incoming); Angela Lusigi, UNDP Africa Strategic Advisor; Tunde Lawal, Director in Nigeria’s Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Adhi Fatungai, UN Women Deputy Director; and Barabra Barungi, AfDB Lead Economist.
The report’s findings which make gender equality an economic and development issue are of significant relevance to the ongoing AEC which is themed; ‘Feeding Africa: Towards Agro-Allied Industrialization for Inclusive Growth’.
According to UNDP Africa, agricultural transformation will require reforms that guarantee equal and sustainable access to land and protect the rights of marginalized women in Africa.
It also indicates that African women hold 66 percent of all jobs in the non-agricultural informal sector, spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water, yet only make 70 cents for each dollar made by men.
Speaking on the urgency of fully engaging and empowering African women, Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye said “The continent continues to lose out in both economic and development terms as long as the potential of women remains untapped.”
On Nigeria’s efforts to advance gender equality, UNDP Resident Representative Kallon said “To advance women development, we need to get women not to only participate actively in productive activities but also to get fair reward for their labour”.
Further expounding on the AfHDR, Ms. Angela Lusigi, a leading contributor to the report, detailed its policy recommendations which call, among other things, for the adoption of legal reforms, policies and programmes to advance women’s economic empowerment, and promoting their access to ownership and management of assets and resources.
According to her, “There is urgent need to engage more women in decision making at all levels if the continent is to realize its full potential,” she said.
The report’s also advocates stronger alliances among governments, private sector, civil society and development partners and the creation of an African Women Investment Bank and Women Investment Windows in national and regional development banks.