Agrobusiness - Featured - Regional - Top Stories - August 6, 2021

Sustainable gender sensitive food systems, certainly a GAMECHANGER : Mliswa

The leading African financial provider, African Development Bank (AfDB) has reaffirmed its obligation to close the financing gap for women.

The bank warned of the impact of gender inequality on food systems in Africa because women are key actors in every part of food systems, as farmers, processors, wage-workers, traders, and consumers.

Speaking in Rome during the pre-summit to the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr Beth Dunford, stressed that closing the gender gap in economic opportunities on the continent was critical for its future.

“Closing gaps in economic opportunities is not only essential for women’s empowerment but for African economies, particularly for GDP growth, poverty reduction, and structural transformation for sustainable development,” Dunford said.

In an interview with BusinessMail, Managing Director of a farming enterprise at Summerhill Farm in Mhangura, Nomhle Maggie Mliswa commended AfDB’s efforts in trying to bridge the financial gap for women and is certain that the move will be a gamer changer.

“The game changer being the strategy should be modelled in such a way to incorporate all stages and processes in the food systems in a sustainable manner rather, I would add the concept of sustainability so we aim for bridging the financial gap to achieve sustainable food systems,” Mliswa said.

Mliswa highlighted that the sustainable food systems aim to achieve food, nutrition, security and health. She said players and interactions along this system include; input supply, production, transportation, processing, retailing, wholesaling, food preparation, consumption and disposal.

“Already you can see the whole picture that women dominate only preparation because they are tied to the gender Role of cooking mostly and sometimes cooking the food that they do not have enough time to eat because there are other roles to do at the same for example feeding the baby,” Mliswa said.

While women engage in hard laboring, men usually dominate, input supply, production, transportation, processing, retailing and wholesaling.

“Women are scarce in any production that involves smart methods, it’s a men world.

“So the gap is there truly such that the coming in of the bank requires a well modelled strategy which touches all these processes of the food system to aim for a sustainable food system,” Mliswa added.

Despite their importance, the evidence shows that women’s contributions are often undervalued, unpaid, and overlooked.

“The impact of these gender inequalities where men dominate every stage and process of the food system mentioned above relegate the women to, financial constraints no land as proof of farm owner, hard labor cant access machinery smart methods a men’s world, food insecurity low harvest not actors in marketing stay home during sales, low income poor farming method, poor health, hard labor cannot access machinery too many house chores,” Mliswa said.

Mliswa stated that gender inequality on food systems may result in low yield as women fail to access financial support due to so many reasons as land tenure rights and authority.

Government and policy makers have a crucial role to play in curbing the impacts of gender inequalities that impede women’s farming activities. It is pivotal for women to be policy makers, thus, enabling gender mainstreaming at every stage and ensure that women are given a chance to be players in the whole value chain.

“There must be blue print plans and strategies to try bridge gap caused by gender inequality in the whole process of food system, gender mainstreaming in the whole food system value chain, aim for sustainable food systems as these link well with sustainable goals where Gender equality  is aimed at

“There must be documented policy in the food system processes that must be followed by all government policy implementers that guide them during the distribution of resources land inputs and wholesaling right to the last value chain stage disposal,” Mliswa said.

Sustainable food systems encompasses, access to resources land, water good soils and finances markets exports, use of climate resilient agro systems because of droughts, good diet for all for good health, smart agriculture and food systems as well as opening up to international trade markets therefore, in the long run women can swap for machinery and move away from hard labor.

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