Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture calls for closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity

On 24 March 2016, UN Women, the World Bank and the UNDP-UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative together with the Royal Norwegian Embassy organized a country-level launch of The Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda report in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The report shows that the annual cost of the gender gap in agriculture productivity is US$100 million and closing this gender gap would result in a 7.3% increase in crop production and, $100 million increase in total GDP. 238,000 people would be lifted out of poverty annually.

Dr. Allan Chiyembekeza, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, said “I see this report as a strong tool to use to inform policy and strategies that can enhance productivity in Malawi. It is also an important tool for us as a ministry to begin to translating the Sustainable Development Goals, and more specifically Goal 1, on “eradicating extreme poverty for all people and everywhere.”

At the launch the government of Malawi expressed commitment to work with key stakeholders to reduce and close the gender gap so as to improve women’s participation and contribution to agriculture productivity. Minister Chiyembekeza continued, “I acknowledge the donor partners who are supporting my Ministry to close the gender gap and increase agricultural productivity…since change of cultures, practices, norms and values [are required], we need an integrated approach and involvement of many stakeholders to achieve closing of the gender gap.”

Meanwhile, The Cost of the Gender Gap has been used by the United Nations in Malawi as well as by high-level government officials to advocate for increased stakeholders’ efforts in reducing the gender gap in agriculture. The report was further discussed at the Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) Symposium in December, 2015, whose participants in light of the report findings called for action to speed up the enactment of the land laws in Malawi to ensure security of tenure for women to improve agricultural productivity.

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