Unlocking the potential of Africa’s free trade area for rural women
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) The Regional Office for Africa has launched a new dossier which advocates seizing the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the economic empowerment of women in agriculture. The publication is launched today to coincide with International Rural Women’s Day which is celebrated annually on October 15 to honor women and girls living in rural areas.
The AfCFTA has the potential to significantly contribute to poverty eradication, job creation and improved food security. However, the new publication Seize the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area for the economic empowerment of women in agriculture warns that the AfCFTA could exacerbate gender disparities and discrimination and worsen the condition of women engaged in trade and agriculture if the inclusion of women is not a priority.
The AfCFTA will change existing business practices and formalize markets that could prevent women’s access and relegate them further to informal and less lucrative value chains.
“Women should not be left behind,” said FAO Senior Gender Officer Clara Park. âIt is critically important that we create supportive ecosystems that enable women to access the opportunities created by AfCFTA and re-energize our efforts to address existing gender inequalities in access to and control over land, services, technology, markets and knowledge. We need to bring women and their organizations to the decision-making table, âshe said.
The key role of women in food production and trade in Africa
About 85 percent of economic activity in Africa is conducted in the informal sector where women make up nearly 90 percent of the informal workforce. Many rural women also sell agricultural goods and products through informal trading channels and cross-border exchanges.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement establishes the largest free trade area in the world. The single market aims to strengthen intra-African trade, facilitate investment, improve continental economic integration and boost the competitiveness of African countries in the global market.
Some of the many benefits that women can gain from trading under AfCFTA include moving up the value chain, tapping networks of women’s associations, modernizing their businesses, and tapping into new markets. .
Ensuring the inclusion of women
The publication makes relevant recommendations for stakeholders in the business sector, including: strategic partnerships to develop innovative solutions and policy recommendations to ensure that the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement will provide opportunities that benefit women ; build the capacity of women and women’s organizations to be involved in Africa’s business environment and understand what the AfCFTA agreement entails, including its opportunities and challenges; and engage the private sector to connect with women’s groups involved in agricultural value chains.
FAO recognizes that women play a critical role in food production in Africa. FAO works with partners to unlock the potential of trade and seize the opportunities of AfCFTA for rural women.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.
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