Africa Must Empower Women to Improve Food Security

Fredrick Ngugi June 28, 2016
A group of African women tilling land. CGIAR

Food security continues to be a major concern for the entire African continent and is considered a key driving force in the never-ending civil conflicts and illegal migration in some parts of the continent. For many decades, African governments have been struggling to feed their populace, but every year there are numerous reports of Africans dying of starvation. While population growth and continued climate change may be blamed for the perennial cases of drought in Africa, exclusion of women has been a major hindrance in meeting Africa’s dietary needs.

In its latest report “Focus on Women,” the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says women are the most effective solution to combating and preventing hunger. “Experience shows that in the hands of women, food is far more likely to reach the mouths of needy children,” WFP says.

The report further notes that one of the reasons that Africa hasn’t been able to address the problem of food insecurity is because women have unequal access to resources, education, and income, largely because they are restricted from participating in decision-making processes.


Women Empowerment in Africa

African women carrying farm produce. International Business Times

Land Ownership

WFP reports that eight out of ten people engaged in farming in Africa are women, and one out of three households around the world is fed by a woman. Yet, in many African communities, women are still not allowed to own land, let alone inherit it.

For too many centuries to count, women have been viewed as property and strangers in their own families, particularly because they are expected to get married. This is often the basis for denying them the right to own land. Where women are granted access to land, they are required to hand over proceeds of their labor to their husbands.

Fortunately, civil society groups in Africa have come together to push for laws that are more favorable to women when it comes to dealing with such retrogressive traditions.

Lack of Education

In the past, many African families didn’t see the need to educate the girl child; instead, they opted to force them into early marriages in exchange for dowry. Sadly, this practice is still going on in some African communities.

Without education, African women are denied a chance to learn – among many other subjects – more sustainable farming methods, which are critical in improving food security, not just in Africa but the world over.

According to the UN, women account for 70 percent of Africa’s food production, underscoring the need for Africa to empower its women in order to win the war on hunger.

With knowledge acquired through education, women will be able to engage in professional farming activities that will consequently uplift their families, countries, and the entire continent in terms of food security.

The World Food Programme insists that a world with zero hunger can only be achieved when every woman, man, girl, and boy has equal opportunities, equal access to resources, and equal voice in the decisions that shape their households, communities, and societies.

Last Edited by:Deidre Gantt Updated: June 28, 2016


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