Women in Africa play a key role in trade and are imperative to Africa’s success in exploiting its trade potential. Women make major contributions to trade in most African countries through their involvement in production of trade goods, as cross-border traders, managers and owners of agri-business firms. Women are deeply involved in production of agricultural products such as maize, cassava, cotton and rice, which have enormous potential for increased trade between African countries and global markets.
According to ILO, 2012, about 62.5% of women were employed in agriculture compared to 61.8 % men. However, potential for women farmers to contribute to expansion of traditional agricultural export produce appears to have been undermined by limited access to key production inputs compared to male farmers (World Bank 2011).
Women are also involved in providing services across borders, such as education, health and professional services, including accountancy and legal services. Many women cross borders in Africa every day to deliver goods from areas where they are relatively cheap to areas with limited supply.
In Tanzania, women provide 56% of agricultural labour input. However, their role leans strongly towards food crops where they provide 75% of the labour input. While women provide 73% of labour input, gender roles in marketing of agricultural crops, vary significantly by crop or social convention in different regions (Ellis, et al 2007).
FCI VISION : Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond