To mark International Women’s Month 2013, we invited contributions from a number of influential women from a variety of professional backgrounds, of both African and Non-African descent and all engaged with the progress of women on the continent around the world. We asked them a series of questions including what more needs to be done to address the challenges facing African women in the 21st century, which women inspired them and what words or quotes inspired them. Caroline Kende-Robb, Chief Executive of the Africa Progress Panel which advocates at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa is our second contributor.
All power to Africa’s female farmers!
Although gender-based violence remains a significant challenge, Africa continues its progress on gender. We’ve had female presidents and parliamentarians, Nobel peace prize winners, and successful entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the continent’s scandalously high levels of maternal mortality are slowly coming down, even if too slowly. But – this International Women’s Month – spare a thought for Africa’s women farmers.
Against the odds, Africa’s women produce the large majority of the continent’s food, a critical issue when the continent suffers malnutrition – a terrible thing in itself - which has knock-on effects for health and education.Despite their critical role in Africa’s farming, women still have less access than men to land, finance, expertise, and other critical inputs. Empower women. When women grow more and earn more, they tend to spend on healthcare and education for their children.
Greater yields from women farmers can increase food security and reduce dependence on aid. It’s time this moved up the political agenda. Africa has tremendous potential to be the world’s bread basket and contribute to world security. Fully empowered, women will be the key.
Caroline Kende-Robb is Executive Director of the Africa Progress Panel