Empowerment of African Women

The agricultural sector in Africa is perceived to remain one of the most important economically; as the sector accounts for around 25 per cent of Africa‘s GDP. However, productivity and yields in sub-Saharan Africa are amongst the lowest in the world, says report.

According to the `Economic Empowerment of African Women through Equitable Participation in Agricultural Value Chains‘ report; in order to effectively transform the agricultural sector in Africa, the economic empowerment of women through boosting their productivity and raising their participation in commercial and higher value-add activities in agriculture is central.

The report published by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in August 2015, perceives that about 62 per cent of economically active women in Africa work in agriculture, making it the largest employer of women. Moreover, in countries such as Rwanda, Malawi and Burkina Faso, over 90 per cent of economically active women are working in the sector.

Four sub-sectors were selected for analysis in this study: cocoa, coffee, cotton, and cassava. The first three were selected based on their economic significance for the region, due to their current export value and future potential. The fourth sub-sector, cassava, was selected due to its high production value and contribution to regional food security.

For each sub-sector and focus country, the authors take a closer look at global competitiveness and constraints, the role of women;  the constraints women face and the opportunities to increase women’s income and participation.

In order to better illustrate the role of women in each sub-sector, the report focuses on Africa’s largest producers.

  • Côte d’Ivoire is the largest cocoa producer, generating one-third of the world’s cocoa.
  • Ethiopia is Africa’s largest coffee producer and exported USD 771 million in coffee in 2013.
  • Burkina Faso is Africa’s largest cotton producer
  • Nigeria is the largest African (and global) cassava producer


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(AfDB/Ob)