Jun 8, 2023
Making African Food Systems Gender-Responsive for Equitable Livelihoods

Event Title: Making African Food Systems Gender-Responsive for Equitable Livelihoods

Date/Time/Venue: June 6, 2023, | 1100hrs to 1300hrs | Durban, South Africa

Host/ Organizer: African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD)

Sponsor: Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA)

Co-organizer(s)/partner(s): CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform, the CAADP XP4 Programme and the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR).


Detailed report

AWARD co-organized a hybrid parallel session on “Making African Food Systems Gender-Responsive for Equitable Livelihoods“, together with the CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform, the CAADP XP4 Programme and the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR). The session explored how to accelerate progress toward equitable and healthy food systems and highlighted why gender-responsive agriculture is a fundamental prerequisite. The parallel event featured expert panel discussions from various actors, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform, West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and representation from Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organization (TIRDO) and Malawi’s Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment.

The session also gave insights into the newly released report by the United Nations’s Food and Agriculture Organization FAO on the ‘Status of Women in Agrifood Systems’ in relation to the African context. The report findings formed the basis of the discussions by the panel, deriving lessons and identifying challenges and opportunities to upscale gender-responsive agriculture and women empowerment.

The discussions provided insights into achieving equitable food systems that address positive nutritional outcomes. The speakers drew attention to the need to broaden agricultural solutions beyond production. They presented the need to create spaces for women in the agribusiness sector to access more lucrative jobs to improve their livelihoods.

The discussions also emphasized the need to create intentional gender-responsive policies to achieve the desired outcomes in the African food systems. From access to resources and assets to transforming societal norms, the panel called governments and implementors to reimagine their legislations, interventions and affirmative actions.

Finally, the panel mentioned that gender-responsive research is integral to strengthening Africa’s resilience, especially in the current climate. Drawing from experience in the field, they reinforced the importance of working with women to create practical and contextual innovations.

Key recommendations

The deliberations proposed the need for a communication loop between governments to encourage the uptake and upscaling of good practices.

In reducing the gender gaps in agriculture, the panel urged the research community to promote innovations and technology to ease labour and provide more time for women to focus on more profitable ventures. According to the FAO report, women spend more time on unpaid labour.

The panel highlighted commitments to making gender-responsive policies a reality to achieve equitable agrifood systems. They mentioned flexible frameworks of measurement to ensure that the established policies are viable.

They also recommended that closing gaps in land tenure could double efforts to improve millions’ livelihoods globally.

Action points

The panel called for deliberate gender-responsive policies in fostering equitable food systems. They called for capacity-building interventions that help to disseminate and create awareness about inclusive policies. The panel highlighted the need for flexible policies for recalibration and reimplementation.

The panel also highlighted the need to make technology more inclusive to reach more women, especially women in rural areas.

The panel called for heavy investment in sex-aggregated data to help identify the specific problem areas for quick and lasting solutions.

The discussions also called on governments, funding and development organizations to invest more in empowerment interventions to increase women’s participation in decision-making, leadership and access to property ownership.

The panel underscored the significance of upscaling proven approaches in closing the gender gaps and strengthening African agriculture.


African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.

Email: awardqueries@cifor-icraf.org | Tel: +254 (0) 20 722 4242