The poorest people in Africa include millions of subsistence farmers who live in remote, scattered locations in different countries. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), remoteness makes people poor. It excludes them from participating in the benefits of the country’s steady economic growth and dynamic modernization process.
Women’s Exclusion from Commercial Agriculture
Poverty in Uganda, Zambia, Cameroon, Ghana and other developing countries is said to have has a predominantly female face. A 2006 International Finance Corporation (IFC) study observes for example that gender inequality directly and indirectly limits economic growth, and suggests that the country could gain as much as 2 percentage points of GDP growth a year by eliminating gender inequality. The IFC report estimates that women in Uganda:
Traditional taboos in Africa also impede women’s ability to contribute to the development of their families and communities, especially the traditional patriarchal order. There are no formal structures for mediating the power dynamic in intra-family communications and bringing men and boys around to see the benefits that would accrue to families and communities by giving women a greater say and leadership roles in the development process. While they are widely acknowledged as the principal providers of food for their households, traditional practices and unimaginative official policies have led to these women’s institutionalized exclusion from the front lines of economic development. Their lack of the most basic knowledge of productive farming techniques and post-harvest mechanisms, and the predominantly patriarchal regional communities also deny women much needed access to resources including land ownership, credit and agricultural inputs. Health and social issues weigh heavily on the rural poor. Rural women are particularly disadvantaged because of the lack of health care and other social services. Young women are at a particularly high risk of HIV infection and in Sub-Saharan Africa, 75% of young people living with HIV/AIDS are female.
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