The World Bank has called on African governments to devise support schemes for women engaged in agriculture in order to significantly reduce poverty on the continent.
The Africa’s Pulse report published by the bank shows women have the ability to lead the charge for poverty eradication as 40 percent of large-scale agriculture labour on the continent are women. However, there are still large and persistent gender gaps in productivity and earnings, and they come with significant economic cost. For instance, women produce 33 percent less per hectare of land than men do, and profits earned by female entrepreneurs are 34 percent lower than those of male entrepreneurs.
Some recommendations the report made to close this gap include building skills for women that go beyond traditional training including gender-sensitive agricultural extension services, socioemotional skills training for women in business, and information to support occupational changes across sectors.
Again, securing women’s land rights through the launch of land formalization programs, co-titling of land rights in the names of both spouses, and formalization of existing customary rights would also help close the gap. And addressing social norms that constrain women’s economic opportunities, especially in the areas of appropriate types of work for men and women, distribution of domestic labor, and resource management within households.
The World Bank says more than a third of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa live below the poverty line. As of 2015, more than 416 million people in Africa live on less than US$1.90 a day, showing an increase of more than 33 percentage points since 1990 when the region’s poor was around 278 million.
More than 82 percent, the report states, live in rural areas with smallholder farming as their predominant profession; meaning, if policies to eradicate poverty are targeted at rural folks, there will be a drastic reduction of poverty on the continent.