September 19, 2023

Rwanda: Why gender inequality persists in the agricultural sector

Statistics show that 63 percent of working women are in agriculture-related jobs, compared to 43 percent of men.

There is a significant gender gap in the agricultural sector where women are in disadvantaged positions with regard to access and control of resources and services, participation and areas of decision-making in agriculture.

This was underlined by an evaluation report of the implementation, responsibility of the strategy for integrating gender and youth in agriculture 2019-2025 presented by the Rwandan Development Organization (RDO) in partnership with UN Women and the Association of Women Journalists (ARFEM).

Statistics show that 63 percent of working women are in agriculture-related jobs, compared to 43 percent of men. However, according to the report, 65.7% of these women are exclusively in subsistence agriculture where these women cultivate crops for their households or are employed rather than practicing market-oriented agriculture.

According to the assessment, the gaps are caused by lack of policy dialogue, limited or lack of market access, inadequate access to finance and lack of technology, among others.

Inaccessibility to quality inputs like access and use of fertilizers was also highlighted where the report shows that only 28 percent of women spend to buy fertilizer compared to 41 percent of men, only 10 percent of women chefs spend on organic fertilizers as compared to 14% of men.

Aurore Agasaro, a farmer from Nyagatare district, said that most women in agriculture do not know how to switch from subsistence agriculture to market-oriented agriculture, attributing the problem to limited knowledge of the opportunities in the country. sector.

“We see so many women farmers, but it is difficult to find them at the supply chain, market or export levels, and to practice agriculture that generates high income for them.

“There is a need to continue to educate women farmers and the best channel of communication should be to decentralize dialogues down to the community level and use the experiences of other women who are doing well in agriculture sectors so that they can serve as role models, ”she said.

Addressing the problem Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, Minister of State at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said the government is implementing different strategies to address these problems.

“We are putting in place strategies such as easy access to finance, for example, we are particularly helping women in market gardening and fruit farming and we hope that by the end of 2025, when the strategy is revised, we may have made significant efforts, “he said. noted.

Ngabitsinze added that by also working with the local community in raising awareness about these issues, it is essential to resolve the inequality.

Fatou Lo, representative of UN Women in Rwanda, said the policies in place are effective, but the methodology used to implement these strategies is one that women farmers lack.

“The results are not new and this is unfortunate as we find that the right policies are not implemented due to different issues, but it is a shared responsibility between partners and by working together we can solve these problems, ”she added.

The report recommends strengthening the capacity of local governments to engage in public debate to address issues, by introducing innovative approaches such as gender scorecards in agriculture to ensure greater accountability and by organizing sessions. periodic policy dialogue to share experience and lessons on challenges, among others.

Egidie Bibio Ingabire, President of ARFEM said that as the media it is their responsibility to continue to defend these agricultural women who are always behind, so that their problems can be addressed and see that change is happening .