CGIAR Gender News

Mapping the extent of gender responsiveness in agriculture and food policies in Africa

A group of women preparing food
Malawi Women Preparing a Meal with Neighbors Gathered
Photo Credit: Mitchell Maher/IFPRI.

Women account for nearly half the workforce within the agricultural sector in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and are involved in various activities across agricultural value chains. From providing inputs and services such as traders or extension agents to farm-level work, women are deeply engaged in agricultural systems, generating income, and employment and ensuring their household’s and community food security.

Despite their essential contribution, women typically have limited access to resources such as land, farm inputs, education, financial services and technologies needed to maintain viable agricultural activities and decent income opportunities in the sector. Many women and their households continue to suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition. Many of these constraints are structural. There is, therefore, a need across LMICs to improve national agricultural policies, development plans and strategies to benefit women, with the acknowledgement of women’s role in agricultural value chains, environmental management and food security being key to addressing gender gaps.

The mainstreaming of gender in national policies is considered a key step towards gender equality for economic and social development outcomes. Such approaches can increase women’s access to productive resources, improve health and nutrition and increase agricultural productivity gains overall.

Scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) are conducting a joint study assessing the status of gender integration in national policy related to agricultural and food systems in Africa. Harriet Mawia, the lead researcher from IFPRI explains that the study has reviewed existing analytical tools that assess the extent of the integration of gender in agriculture and related policies.