As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it is crucial to reflect on the progress made toward gender equality and the steps needed to achieve equitable and sustainable development. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have recognized the pivotal role of women and youth in the agriculture sector and the need to close the gender and youth gap to achieve sustainable development and food security in Africa.
It is evident that women and youth are a crucial part of the agricultural workforce, but unfortunately, they often face challenges that limit their full participation in the sector. Access to resources, education, social/cultural norms and technology are some barriers these groups face, which create significant obstacles to achieving full inclusion in the food system and thus growth and social stability. Despite facing challenges, women and youth in agriculture can overcome them with the help of gender-sensitive programs, increased access to jobs, education and training opportunities. Aiming to provide such solutions INCiTiS-FOOD is on a mission to transform African food systems through collaborative living labs and a multi-actor approach across six countries in three African regions.
Both the FAO and AfDB emphasize the need for partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders to achieve sustainable development. INCiTiS-FOOD takes strong pride in its collaborative approach and aims to create resilient food systems and promote sustainable food production in Africa through crop farming, aquaculture systems, insect farming and more. It’s essential to empower women and promote their active participation in agriculture as this gender-sensitive outlook takes into account the unique roles, perspectives and needs of women. Such a mindset and conscious view of food is important as women and youth are often responsible for food processing and marketing, which means that their empowerment in agriculture can have a significant impact on household food security.
Circular food solutions are also an important part of building sustainable and equitable food systems. These solutions aim to reduce food waste and maximize the use of resources, which can be achieved by recycling nutrients and minimizing waste. Women play a critical role in implementing circular food systems because they have valuable knowledge and expertise in traditional food preservation techniques, and are often involved in food processing and value addition. Additionally, youth can further empower the knowledge and co-creative solutions developed when scaling up, contributing to the overall long-term sustainable outlook.
Promoting women’s empowerment in agriculture is essential for achieving sustainable and equitable food systems as their role and influence can be seen from farms all the way to the table. By empowering women and youth, promoting circular food solutions, and ensuring food security for all, we can build a better, more sustainable future for everyone.
Sources used in parts of the text:
UN Women and AfDB. 2021. Green Jobs for Women in Africa. African Natural Resources Centre and UN Women Regional Office for West and Central Africa.
FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2019. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019: Safeguarding against economic slowdowns and downturns. Rome, FAO.