Key Messages and Recommendations
The 2019 ReSAKSS Annual Conference was organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in partnership with the African Union Commission (AUC) on 11-13 November in Lomé, Togo. Convened under the theme of Gender Equality in Rural Africa: From Commitments to Outcomes, the conference brought together over 140 participants to discuss findings of the 2019 Annual Trends and Outlook Report (ATOR), on the same gender theme, and to review progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Conference participants included representatives of AUC, regional economic communities, advocacy groups, and farmers’ organizations as well as policy makers, policy analysts, researchers, and development partners.
The conference was officially opened by the Honorable Mr. Noël Koutéra Bataka, Togo’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Production, and Fisheries, who stressed the importance of addressing the gendered agricultural productivity gap and highlighted efforts of his ministry to improve women’s productivity and socioeconomic conditions.
On behalf of Her Excellency Josefa L. C. Sacko, Commissioner of the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission (AUC-DREA), Dr. Afeikhena Jerome, a Special Advisor to the Commissioner, noted Africa’s commitment to achieving gender equality and enhancing women’s empowerment. He also highlighted the significant challenges African women face due to “…unequal distribution of resources, power and wealth, combined with social institutions and norms that sustain inequality.”
The conference keynote address was delivered by Ms. Monica Kapiriri, a development facilitator, who highlighted the importance of “minding the cracks” especially when there is a narrow working definition of gender, the role of institutions is underestimated, and the focus is placed on removing constraints and not the root causes of gender inequality. She advocated the need to invest in transformative change that addresses the underlying root causes of gender inequality and to continually asses formal and informal laws, practices, and norms that govern interactions between people and resources.
The 2014 Malabo Declaration outlines seven commitments to enhance livelihoods through inclusive agricultural growth. Gender-sensitive policy and programming have an integral role to play in fostering inclusive agricultural growth to meet these commitments. Ending hunger, reducing poverty, boosting intra-African trade, and increasing resilience to climate and other risks will require examining how gender differences affect our ability to achieve these outcomes. This means paying attention to both women and men, and not just to women alone.
The 2019 ATOR applies a gender lens to several issues that must be addressed to fully achieve the goals outlined by the Malabo Declaration. Conference participants discussed issues raised in the 2019 ATOR through six plenaries on: 1) women’s empowerment in African agriculture; 2) gender: social norms and leadership; 3) gender and assets: productivity, land and financial capital; 4) gendered livelihoods; 5) gender, resilience, and social protection; and 6) progress toward achieving Malabo Declaration goals.