By; Karen Munoko Nguru
This year’s International Women’s Day is celebrated in such unprecedented times. As the continent and, more specifically, the agricultural community start to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic slowly, it presents an opportunity to build back better. However, to do that requires immediate, practical actions that choose to challenge the systemic issues that have prevented the full participation of women in Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D).
Women in Africa’s AR4D face multiple challenges, including systemic discrimination in accessing land, the burden of unpaid work, and lower wages compared to their male counterparts. Women are also often excluded from leadership and decision-making positions at all levels. As such, on this year’s international women’s day, FARA urges the recognition of all women leaders in Africa’s AR4D and the women who play a significant role in the transformation of Africa’s food system.
Women produce 60-80 percent of the world’s food; therefore, ensuring that women have opportunities to make food systems more sustainable increases the chances that such a transformation will succeed. Acknowledging women’s role, FARA continues to lobby regional, sub-regional, national, and global partners to increase investment in gender-smart approaches for advancing Science Technology and Innovations within Africa’s AR4D. FARA also advocates for increased gender equity at the policy and strategic level through the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) “One Africa Voice dialogue” and CAADP Ex Pillar 4 program.
FARA is also advancing gender equity through AfDB’s Feed Africa’s strategy under the program: Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Capacity Development and Outreach (CDTO) enabler compact. Notably, a holistic approach must be adopted to overcome challenges and improve women’s economic empowerment. While interventions would typically focus on impacts or outcomes, FARA advocates for practices that review the pathways between intervention and outcome. As such, these approaches have been applied in the TAAT CDTO framework.
Given that the 2016 Africa Human Development Report suggests that gender inequality costs Sub-Saharan Africa approximately 95 USD billion per year, investing in gender-smart approaches to agribusiness might lead to economic benefits. This is also observed by McKinsey Global Institute that 12-28 USD trillion could be added to the global economy if women achieved parity with men in economic outcomes. Therefore, women leaders are an essential catalyst for change, as they serve to empower other women, raise awareness, and act as role models.
As FARA celebrates this year’s International Women’s Day, we recognize the vital contribution of women in Africa’s agricultural economy and look forward to carrying out joint action plans in increasing the participation of women in AR4D. This year’s International Women’s Day presents an opportunity to lobby partners towards challenging the systemic and institutional barriers that have prevented women from fully participating in Science, Technology and Innovations to enhance the continent’s food system.
 “Box 1: Progress towards Gender Equality in Wages, Where Do We Stand?,” Global Gender Gap Report 2020 (blog), accessed March 8, 2021, https://wef.ch/2rPU0C7.
 “What’s the Truth about the Role of Women in Agriculture Today?,” Water, Land and Ecosystems, February 28, 2018, https://wle.cgiar.org/thrive/big-questions/what-truth-about-role-women-agriculture-today.
 C. Leigh Anderson et al., “Economic Benefits of Empowering Women in Agriculture: Assumptions and Evidence,” The Journal of Development Studies 57, no. 2 (February 1, 2021): 193–208, https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2020.1769071.
 Anderson et al.