International Women's Day: Why gender equality matters in policymaking
We profile recently published research from our content partner network that highlights why gender equality in Africa is crucial for achieving socio-economic transformation and building inclusive societies.
1. Development and equality
Young African women between the ages of 15 and 35 find themselves in a conundrum in a world that is highly patriarchal and ageist, frequently facing a double burden brought about by their gender and age, and falling through the cracks of government programmes. While the need to empower young women is often couched in an argument of numbers, this policy brief by the Institute for Security Studies argues that through enhanced action and deliberate policy choices to promote their development and equality, young women will be better placed to make meaningful contributions to Africa’s aspirations as laid out in Agenda 2063 and the Global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
2. Climate change
Despite the fact that climate change and poverty are increasingly recognised as interlinked global problems, responses from governments and development agencies often focus on their scientific and economic dimensions only. This guide by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network focuses on the advantages and challenges of pursuing climate compatible development from a gender perspective. International frameworks are gradually reflecting gender issues better, but all too often wording about gender is simply added to existing policies, while women’s views, needs and participation are – in reality – excluded from climate change responses and development initiatives. Moreover, women are frequently perceived as victims, with little consideration for the contribution and leadership they could provide in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
3. A green economy
A green economy is envisioned as a new pathway to achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication. It is a remedy for the prevailing brown economy, which has been a major driver of environmental degradation and inequality. A green economy would serve as a vehicle for accelerating and achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication, taking into account the vital links between the economy, society, and the environment. Central to its desired outcomes is gender equality, which is recognised globally as a fundamental requirement for achieving sustainable development. A successful transition to a green economy would therefore depend on how gender is assimilated into the transition processes, and on interventions to ensure gender inequalities are not perpetuated. This paper by the South African Institute of International Affairs explores the potential for achieving gender equality in a green economy.
4. Food security
Women and children in Benin and Mozambique play vital roles in agriculture. Apart from farm activities, women also heavily engage in post-harvest activities and preservation of food to ensure its availability and stability in and out of season. However, these women are systematically excluded from accessing productive resources, markets and services. This “gender gap” hinders their productivity and reduces their contributions to the agriculture sector and to the achievement of broader economic and social development goals. Closing the gender gap in agriculture and post-harvest management, would produce significant gains for society by increasing agricultural productivity, reducing poverty hunger and promoting economic growth.
This policy brief by FANRPAN describes the current status of policies and programs in Benin and Mozambique, with the aim of identifying potential gender and social sensitive post-harvest initiatives, thereby supporting their transition to a more sustainable and inclusive food security economy. Based on the analysis of the post-harvest policy status of the two countries, the report identifies a variety of reform opportunities, including the restructuring of post-harvest, gender and social equity policies; and provision of incentives across key sectors to support the development of food security system.
5. Political participation
From a legal perspective, Malawi has made tremendous progress toward eliminating discrimination against women. In addition to passing the Gender Equality Act (2012), the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (2006), and the Deceased Estates (Wills, Inheritance and Protection) Act (2011), the government has demonstrated its commitment by embracing gender mainstreaming in policy decisions, legislation, and development plans and programs. Parliamentary election results reflected similar progress as the number of female members of Parliament (MPs) increased steadily from 5.2% in 1994 to 22.3% in 2009. While Malawians express support for equal rights for women when it comes to owning land and getting a job, gender-based discrimination is not a rare experience, according to respondents surveyed by Afrobarometer.
Many – but far from all – Malawians say girls and women already have access to the same life opportunities as boys and men. Despite the majority view that women should have the same chance as men to be elected, Malawian women continue to trail their male counterparts in engaging in political activities. Overall, survey results suggest a need for strategic and better-coordinated efforts to empower women to become active in politics, as the environment seems conducive to their support.
6. Agricultural technology adoption
Agriculture plays a central economic role in most sub-Saharan African countries, generating an average of 33% of GDP and employing, on average, 65% of the labor force. Most of the agricultural labor force in the region is supplied by women, who are responsible for feeding their families. However, low productivity remains a challenge, particularly among women farmers who tend to have access to fewer resources. The challenge of low agricultural productivity of female-owned farms has mainly been attributed to the lower rate of agricultural technology adoption among women, compared to men. Although most agricultural technologies are gender neutral, the project design and implementation may be biased towards men, hindering female participation.
The objective of this study by the Partnership for Economic Policy is to assess the gender differences in the adoption of push-pull technology and other agricultural intensification practices. Providing a better understanding of gender adoption gaps and the causes of these gaps will offer key information for designing promising agricultural policy options to boost cereal productivity, increase income growth, improve food security, and reduce poverty for both male and female farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
Gender is increasingly becoming an integral consideration in peace processes, as called for in the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, adopted in 2000 as the first ever formal women, peace and security resolution passed by the United Nations. Women’s inclusion in peacekeeping at community level has evolved, as their increased engagement is now known to be key to the successful implementation of mission mandates. Women in conflict and post-conflict nations have as great an understanding of the peace and security challenges that form part of their lived realities as their male counterparts.
This Policy & Practice Brief by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes advances recommendations to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and other UN agencies working in peacekeeping environments. These recommendations aim to share ideas on how best to address implementation challenges around UNSCR 1325 at community level, and in ultimately responding to the needs of vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls, in the context of peacekeeping operations by involving them in responding to highlighted challenges.
[Download PDF - Protecting the rights of women through community-focused approaches to strengthening gender in African peace support operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic]
(Main image: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of SAIIA or CIGI.