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Unlocking the potential of the African free trade area for rural women

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Unlocking the potential of the African free trade area for rural women

We need to bring women and their organizations to the decision-making table

ACCRA, Ghana, October 15, 2021 / APO Group / –

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Africa has launched a new dossier which calls for 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 Seizing 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 status of women engaged in agriculture. trade and agriculture if the inclusion of women is not prioritized.

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 Clara Park, senior gender officer at FAO. “It is critically important that we create supportive ecosystems that enable women to access the opportunities created through AfCFTA and re-energize our efforts to address existing gender inequalities in access and control. land, services, technology, markets and knowledge. We need to bring women and their organizations to the decision-making table, ”she 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 almost 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, leveraging networks of women’s associations, modernizing their businesses, and operating new ones. 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 is working with partners to unlock the potential of trade and seize the opportunities of AfCFTA for rural women.

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