It has been observed that women control trade in food and agricultural commodities, it has also been demonstrated that the women folks control many aspects of agricultural product processing and related activities, however, their role in the sector is somewhat unrecognised and unremunerated in many cases. Most of the time, the men take the absolute credit and benefit for ventures jointly owned by both the man and the woman in the family. Very worrisome is the fact that women are facing many challenges related to access to productive resources such as land, finance and business support. However, many have argued that if women have equal access to productive resources, there will be better and more sustainable paybacks for society.
There are several advantages to women’s empowerment, especially at the household level. It has been noted that families, where the women support their men economically, are more stable than the ones that the women are redundant. Also, if women are given leadership opportunities, they are always exceptional. Evidence has shown that institutions with women at the helm of affairs are always successful.
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The agricultural sector offers an opportunity for women’s empowerment at a very minimum cost. To improve women’s economic empowerment, firstly, there must be a conscious effort by the government and development partners to target the women with specific interventions rather than assuming that the resources will trickle down to women.
Fourthly, there is still a huge gap between women’s and men’s access to finance. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 37 per cent of women have a bank account, compared to 48 per cent of men, a gap that has only widened over the past several years. Government must create financial products that target women’s economic activities. Finally, women must be given a chance to participate in politics and hold leadership positions as a way to reduce the gender imbalance in the system.
Godswill Aguiyi is the Associate Program Officer, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa