World Bank Africa’s Pulse report has pointed out that women are considered as key engine of growth and development in all of Africa.
African Women entrepreneurs are more likely than men because they contribute to a large share of agricultural labor across the continent.
Women’s economy empowerment is vital to progress for all Africans. However, the region’s success story of rising women’s participation in the labor force is stifled by large and persistent earnings gaps between men and women.
Speaking recently in a live screen conference, Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for the African Region indicated that women are the force for growth and job creation in Africa, particularly in the context of a large young population with higher expectations for quality employment.
Women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa produce thirty-three percent less per hectare of land than men do. “Female entrepreneurs or business owners earn thirty-four percent less profits than male business owners. These earnings gaps are very costly in terms of foregone output.”
According to Zeufack, seizing the largest benefits from African women’s labor participation requires policy makers to confront the constraints that disproportionately affect women and implement policies to help boost growth.
In sub-Saharan Africa, women tend to have lower levels of human capital as manifested by the gaps in secondary and tertiary schooling and skills in most countries and lower access to other productive assets, including financial credit and land.
Women’s economic opportunities and earnings are also constrained by a series of policies, institutions, and social norms that influence the economic and household roles of women and men, he said.
Zeufackfurthered that policies that target better constraints to women’s economic empowerment have the potential to contribute not only to narrow the gender gap in earnings, but also to enhance economic growth adding “Policies that improve women’s income opportunities, upgrade their earnings, and build skills will narrow gender gaps.’
Accordingly, six policy pathways are identified by the World Bank to bridge the gender gap in Africa: building women’s skills beyond traditional training for example by providing gender sensitive agricultural extension services and socioemotional skills training for women entrepreneurs, alleviating women’s financial constraints through innovative solutions that relieve the collateral problem and improve their access to the financial sector,
Also helping women secure their land rights, connecting women to labor (with seasonal financing to hire farm labor), addressing social norms that constraint women’s opportunities, and building a strong new generation by helping girls to navigate their adolescence among others.TNR