Gendering Agriculture so Women Take the Lead in Feeding Africa

Rhoda
Tumusiime
, IITA Board Member, Former African Union
Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, and Chairperson,
HOPE
�
Steven
Cole
, Senior Scientist and Gender Research
Coordinator, IITA

By Rhoda Tumusiime and Steven Cole
IBADAN, Nigeria, Oct 12 2020 (IPS)

Africa’s hopes of feeding a population projected to double by
2050 amidst a worsening climate crisis rest on huge investments in
agriculture, including creating the conditions so that women can
empower themselves and lead efforts to transform the continent’s
farming landscape.

Rhoda Tumusiime

As we celebrate the 2020 International Year of Rural Women, Africa
needs to reflect more on the role women play in food and nutrition
security, land and water management.

Also, the impact of COVID-19 on women’s capacity to provide
food for their families and care for their loved ones underscores
the importance of strengthening their capacities by designing
gender responsive actions.

We know the world has the technology and resources to eradicate
hunger but finding the right policies and the will to implement
them often elude us.

Fortunately, young women and men carrying out evidence-based
research in sub-Saharan Africa are coming up with some possible
answers on how to tackle these pressing issues.

Working with the support and guidance of the International
Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), a
research-for-development non-profit, these researchers are aiming
to facilitate agricultural solutions to hunger, poverty and natural
resource degradation in line with IITA’s goals and particularly
its gender research strategy.

Bear in mind that
over 60% of all employed women in sub-Saharan Africa
work in
agriculture, and that
women produce up to 80% of foodstuffs
for household consumption
and sale in local markets. But these women farmers are
disadvantaged by a range of factors, such as laws, policies,
gender-blind development programs, and entrenched norms and power
imbalances within and outside their homes and communities.

Fundamental gender constraints clearly shape how women and men
are involved in and benefit from agricultural food systems.
Manifested as harmful gender norms, attitudes and power relations,
they have a particular impact on how young women participate in
value chains or have access to resources such as land, as well as
their decision-making powers and how money earned from their labor
is spent.

Steven Cole

Gender-blind policies and development interventions do not take
into account the different roles and diverse needs of men and
women, while gender-accommodative policies confirm that gender
constraints exist but can propose ways to work around them for the
benefit of women.

IITA’s gender research strategy brings to the surface the
underlying causes of gender inequalities to inform and guide
policies to address these causes with interventions that reduce
poverty and increase gender equality in low-income countries with
boosts to job opportunities and economic, food and nutrition
security.

In the months before the coronavirus surfaced and with funding
from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), IITA launched 80 research
fellowships for young African scholars, with an emphasis on young
female professionals and students aiming to acquire a master’s or
doctoral degree. Grantees are offered training on research
methodology, data management, scientific writing, and the
production of research evidence for policymaking.

Known as CARE (Enhancing
Capacity to Apply Research Evidence), the three-year project aims
to build our understanding of poverty reduction, employment impact,
and factors influencing youth engagement in agribusiness, and rural
farm and non-farm economies.

Achieving these development outcomes requires working with
multi-stakeholder groups at multiple levels to transform unequal
power relations between female and male youth in various social
institutions, including in the household, community, market, and
the state.

For example, in southern Benin, graduate student
Grace Chabi
looked at why young agricultural entrepreneurs are
predominately male. Among her policy recommendations are a call to
remove gender biases from land ownership, credit, and employment
practices. Policies should also facilitate female agripreneurship
networks and target funding to agribusinesses owned by women.

Research by
Akinyi Sassi
in Tanzania found how stereotypes can negatively
affect women’s intentions to use information and communication
technologies (ICT) to access agricultural market information, but
that contrary to such stereotyping, female farmers were more
strongly influenced than male farmers by their perception of the
value of using phones to find such information. Such gender factors
can be considered when promoting ICT use.


Cynthia Mkong
of Cameroon has examined the issue of role
models, social status, and previous experience in determining why
some students are more likely to choose agriculture as their
university major. Almost a quarter of young women in Cameroon are
unemployed, compared with 11% of young men. Building effective
policies to improve the education of girls and household income at
all levels could reverse declining youth interest in
agriculture.


Adedotun Seyingbo
examined employment among Nigerian youth and
how gender and other issues, including land access, influence how
more young people remain in non-farm employment rather than staying
in farm jobs.

Also in Nigeria,
Oluwaseun Oginni
looked at rural-urban migration and found that
43% of youth migrants are female. A better future, educational
opportunities, and marriage are among the reasons young women are
leaving rural areas.


Adella Ng’atigwa
examined how to empower youth to reduce
horticulture postharvest losses in Tanzania and found that women
have fewer losses as they are more involved in vegetable production
and marketing and are more able to handle perishable crops.

All these research projects also illustrate IITA’s gender
research strategy using what is known as an ‘intersectional
lens’. This means an examination of deep inequities, sometimes
violent and systematic, that intersect with each other: such as
poverty, racism, sexism, denial of rights and opportunities, and
generational differences. In this way the connections between all
struggles for justice and equal opportunities are illuminated.

A gender transformative approach adopted by IITA aims to address
the root causes of gender inequalities for more sustained and
meaningful change for female and male youth. With such changes,
Africa, with the world’s youngest and fastest growing population,
will be better equipped to handle its future challenges with women
at the forefront.

 

The post
Gendering Agriculture so Women Take the Lead in Feeding Africa

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Excerpt:

Rhoda
Tumusiime
, IITA Board Member, Former African Union
Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, and Chairperson,
HOPE

 
Steven
Cole
, Senior Scientist and Gender Research
Coordinator, IITA

The post
Gendering Agriculture so Women Take the Lead in Feeding Africa

appeared first on Inter Press
Service
.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Gendering Agriculture so Women Take the Lead in Feeding
Africa