Abstract: Gender equality is a basic human right that requires that men and women be treated equally with respect to resources, legislation and policies. Gender-based discrimination results in serious gaps in political, social and economic participation. In sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture is the livelihood of nearly 70 % of the economically active population. For the rural poor, agriculture is the main source of employment and income, although the income generated is low. A host of factors leading to low yields means that many households continue to be food insecure. High rates of hunger are strongly linked to gender inequality. The agricultural sector is under-performing in many sub-Saharan African countries, in part because women do not have equal access to the resources and opportunities they need to become more productive. Women smallholder farmers in the sub-Saharan African region face numerous constraints. They may have access to land but very few actually own or have title to it, their plots tend to be less fertile than those belonging to men, they have fewer farm tools and equipment, and limited access to farm credit, inputs, technologies and information. In addition, women farmers lack access to improved seeds, reliable water supplies, markets, financing and insurance options, and moreover, suffer from unsupportive public policies. Furthermore, smallholder African women farmers often do not get paid for the farm work that they do, nor do they always earn and control the income from sales, a factor that may affect their incentives to effectively participate in agricultural production. Research also shows that development policies and practices often exacerbate the situation as they do not offer women farmers equal access to development resources, training and information, thereby limiting their opportunities and ability to contribute to agricultural development, food security and poverty reduction. The household and societal pay-offs to reducing womens constraints in productive activities are significant. Closing the agricultural gender gap would result in significant gains for the agricultural sector as well as society as a whole. Increasing the opportunities for women can have a powerful impact on productivity and agricultural-led growth. Women are just as efficient agricultural producers as men and can achieve similar yields when given access to resources, including training and services.
Keywords: gender, employment, income, credit, inputs, technology, markets