Women account for up to 80 percent of small holder farmers but gender inequalities make it difficult for them to access land in Africa.
The second ordinary session of the ECOWAS parliament sought solutions to this challenge, under the theme; promoting gender equality in agricultural investments on the continent.
In the face of famine and starvation, empowering women in this sector can increase yields on farms by up to 30 percent – FAO, UN.
The Economic Community of West African States, OXFAM, and the Food Agriculture Organization say they want to enhance policies, with special attention to the need to close the gender gap in access to land.
“Normally the rule should be that women inherit one part and men inherit two parts, so if that was a plate women in those countries should have at least 33 percent of land ownership but it’s not the case”, says Tacko Ndiaye, senior officer for gender equality at FAO.
“In many of our countries the percentage of land ownership for women might be 10 percent, 14 percent, so for me it’s not about the religion and culture, it’s more about mindsets and the commitments to achieving these goals which will require women’s more equal access to land”.
It is a problem that mostly affects rural women but if poverty is dealt away with and equity among farmers is achieved, more can be got from agriculture alone.
According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, agriculture accounts for one third of gross domestic product GDP growth in Africa.