- Gates Foundation
The gap between men and women in some African countries is easily seen in agriculture. Male-managed farm plots consistently out-perform those of their female counterparts by as much as 66% in Niger and 25% in Malawi.
The long-held belief was that a lack of access to the necessary inputs (seed, fertilizer, labor) to make a farm successful were less available to women. That is the case to some extent, but there are more ways that women are put at a disadvantage as to their male counterparts.
“Despite the centrality of agriculture in the economies of most African nations, relatively little is known about why farms managed by women are on average less productive. This “knowledge gap” in turn translates into a “policy gap” in the steps that African governments, their development partners, business leaders and civil society can take to equalize opportunities for female and male farmers,” writes Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the Africa Region for the World Bank.
In fact, equal access to inputs does not necessarily mean that men and women will have the same levels of agricultural productivity. Doip’s comments come as a part of a joint-report on gender and agriculture led by Michael O’Sullivan from the World Bank and Arathi Rao from the ONE Campaign. A closer look at six African countries that are responsible for more than 40% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa helps to make sense what is happening.
Harvard’s venerated and brotastic MBA program quietly decided to become more female friendly to both students and faculty. Men tended to dominate the top 5% of graduating classes and are over-represented in the faculty. The class that graduated this past summer were part of an experiment to change the tide and enable more success for women.
The program worked in making things better for women, found a survey of female administrators, faculty and students. However it also pissed some people off. Others questioned whether the intentional changes would actually translate to real-world changes for the men and women when they left their Cambridge riverside digs.
The New York Times recently reported on the mixed results:
But in 2010, Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s first female president, appointed a new dean who pledged to do far more than his predecessors to remake gender relations at the business school. He and his team tried to change how students spoke, studied and socialized. The administrators installed stenographers in the classroom to guard against biased grading, provided private coaching — for some, after every class — for untenured female professors, and even departed from the hallowed case-study method. Continue reading
This is another one of those perhaps counter-intuitive and positive stories about Africa — presuming you see the increasing political power of women as positive. Most of us do.
The ONE Campaign cites a CNN series featuring some of Africa’s leading women politicians and activists. I cite the ONE blog’s summary because I think it’s better and more easily navigated than CNN’s. Both have this photo gallery of the top 8 ‘leading ladies’ of Africa.