Countries, organizations, businesses, and non-governmental organizations celebrated International Women’s Day 2021 on March 8, 2021.
For CORAF, it was an opportunity to review its efforts and interventions towards advancing gender equality.
“The agricultural sector suffers from gender gaps when it comes to accessing agricultural resources and factors of production, opportunities, and the impacts of agricultural research and development. This, compromises the efforts needed for food-self sufficiency in the West and Central Africa,” argues Dr. Mariame Maïga, the Regional Advisor for Gender and Social Development of CORAF.
“Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift 100–150 million people out of hunger,” according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
CORAF has a mission to enhance food and nutrition security in West and Central Africa. In doing so, CORAF ensures that women and youths’ considerations are factored into its programming and implementation.
A gender strategy adopted about a decade ago has allowed CORAF to institutionalized gender in programs, procedures, and the system of governance.
“CORAF’s gender policy aims to facilitate equitable access to Agricultural research and development resources, opportunities and impacts,” says Dr. Maïga.
In the past decade, CORAF has implemented several flagship programs. Below are some gains made towards advancing the livelihoods of women:
- The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP): The WAAPP recorded 4,536,562 women beneficiaries out of a total of 9,246,489 beneficiaries, representing 49 percent of women beneficiaries. In addition, 28 percent of women benefited from Masters and Ph.D training in agricultural sciences.
- The Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education, and Development in West Africa:Fifty-four percent of women are involved in the project activities.
- The Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF): This program was implemented through 17 regional projects in West and Central Africa. About 100,000 people were impacted, 43 percent of whom were women.
- The Agricultural Research Capacity for Development (C4R4D): Aiming to increase critical human capital for agri-research in West and Central Africa, the project recorded a score of 43 percent of women among the recipients of the scholarships that were awarded.
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When the Ebola broke out in 2014, CORAF led a massive seed delivery coordination effort to some of the affected communities in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
The initiative recorded 45 percent of women beneficiaries in terms of access to seeds and input packages.
A Gender-Sensitive Governance System
CORAF’s gender outcomes have not only been with final beneficiaries of projects. It has also been recorded at the governance level of CORAF. For example, while the Scientific and Technical Committee (STC) of CORAF had only one woman among its twelve (12) members in 2012, it has now reached parity, thus counting six women and six men. At the Executive Secretariat level in Dakar, in 2019, almost 46 percent were women. That figure has since dropped to 36 percent as a result of the constant movement of personnel for either personal, professional development purposes or to join other organizations. CORAF’s current Governing Board Chair is Dr. Angela Moreno from Cape Verde, representing the first female Board Chair in the 34-year history of the organization.