It's Time for Gender-Responsive Agri-food Policies that Address the Needs of Women
At a time when the world continues to grapple with shocks worsening the food insecurity crisis, evidence indicates that there are still substantial gender inequalities across all the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. These gender inequalities across the SDGs undermine the potential of inclusive development and deeply cripple efforts toward equitable food systems.
Now more than ever, there is an urgent need for concerted efforts to develop solutions that will set the world toward inclusive development and equitable food systems.
African Union’s Agenda 2063 envisions an Africa where girls and boys can reach their full potential and where men and women contribute equally to the development of their societies.
“Africa of 2063 would see fully empowered women with equal access and opportunity in all spheres of life. This means that the African woman would have equal economic rights, including the rights to own and inherit property, sign a contract, register and manage a business.”
Gender-responsive policies are critical if innovations are to provide efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable solutions for Africa to transform its agriculture and feed its growing population. Integrating gender in food systems policies will provide the legal framework for driving action and allocating the necessary investments to not only close current gender resource gaps but also address underlying causes of gender inequality and women's empowerment in food systems.
More than 48 percent of employed women in Africa work in agriculture but are often disadvantaged by national policies, including those related to COVID-19 restrictions. That is why we need to reform policies to enable equal participation and benefits from agricultural production. Such policies will address women smallholders' needs and priorities and how various value chain actors are positioned while considering the interconnections of policies and how they exacerbate inequality in agri-food systems.
Recognizing the need for sustained efforts to unlock the potential of agri-food policies to feed Africa, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) has opened the Call for the second Cohort of its Gender Responsive Agriculture Systems Policy (GRASP) Fellowship to women in policy who are citizens of Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda and Senegal.
Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the highly competitive GRASP Fellowship is an immersive non-residential career development program targeting mid-career African women in policy.
Successful applicants, known as AWARD Policy Fellows, get customized training in mentoring, leadership, negotiation skills, and gender integration in agri-food policies. The AWARD Policy Fellows will be equipped to catalyze the design and implementation of gender-responsive agricultural policies across Africa.
The inaugural Cohort, announced in December 2022, comprises 49 women from diverse organizations, including the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies across six countries.