Africa Gender Innovation Lab

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The Gender Innovation Lab (GIL) conducts impact evaluations of development interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa, seeking to generate evidence on how to close the gender gap in earnings, productivity, assets and agency. The GIL team is currently working on over 50 impact evaluations in 21 countries with the aim of building an evidence base with lessons for the region.

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  • Publication
    Gender and Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: Review of Constraints and Effective Interventions
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-07-13) Buehren, Niklas
    Raising agricultural is essential to boosting gross domestic product (GDP), reducing poverty, improving food security, and achieving structural transformation across Africa. Yet, Africa’s agricultural intensification has not kept pace with that of other developing regions. One significant and costly inefficiency undermining the region’s progress is the pervasive gender gap in agricultural productivity. This gender gap represents not only a substantial impediment to growth in the agricultural sector but, moreover, a forgone opportunity to increase national income and reduce poverty at the regional level. To address the productivity gender gap and realize the potential of African agriculture, establishing a clear understanding of the gender specific constraints hindering the productivity of women farmers is crucial. This paper develops a conceptual framework for thinking about the gender gap in agricultural productivity, reviews evidence on the effectiveness of policies and interventions designed to address the constraints faced by women farmers and proposes a research agenda to move the policy debate forward. Section II provides an overview of the agricultural gender gap in Sub-Saharan Africa. Section III presents a framework that establishes linkages between the choices that women farmers make, the constraints and contextual factors influencing their decisions, and the agricultural outcomes they achieve. Section IV identifies the constraints that women farmers face, reviews the evidence on the levels of severity and relative impact of these constraints on productivity, and highlights existing approaches and interventions that tackle these constraints. Section V outlines a research agenda to fill knowledge gaps and generate evidence useful to policymakers in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Section VI concludes.
  • Publication
    Finding the Time and Labor to Farm: How Social Dynamics Drive Gender Differences in Agricultural Labor in Southern Nigeria
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-03-28) Friedson-Ridenour, Sophia; Gonzalez, Paula; Pierotti, Rachael S.; Olayiwola, Olubukola; Delavallade, Clara
    Across Sub-Saharan Africa smallholder farmers depend heavily on manual labor supplied by their households, families, and communities, but women are particularly labor constrained. This research paired a detailed quantitative examination of patterns of gender difference in the allocation of time and agricultural labor with an in-depth qualitative examination of how people explain those patterns. The descriptive findings and resulting conceptual framework can be used to guide future programming and research. In southwestern Nigeria, married women’s time and agricultural labor constraints are rooted in common social expectations that men’s farm plots take priority and that a woman’s own farming should not interfere with the agricultural production managed by her husband. Women access lower quantity and quality of labor because of off-farm commitments, and time constraints around when in the day and when in the season labor is allocated to their farm plots. Overcoming agricultural labor constraints for women farmers, especially married women, may require reimagining the role of women and men’s farms in the household. Several new Africa gender innovation lab studies suggest avenues for future innovations to support women producers.
  • Publication
    Locking Crops to Unlock Investment: Experimental Evidence on Warrantage in Burkina Faso
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-09-30) World Bank
    Smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa face an array of challenges to realizing higher profits from their agricultural activities, including lack of adequate storage facilities and credit market imperfections. To address these constraints, warrantage, an innovative inventory credit system, offers farmers the opportunity to both store their crop production and access credit simultaneously. In a study in Burkina Faso, a research team worked with 38 villages to look at the impacts of warrantage on a variety of household and agricultural outcomes when given access to storage warehouses in close proximity villages. With additional cash on hand from increased revenues, households with access to the warrantage scheme invested more in education, increased their livestock holdings, and invested more in agricultural inputs for the following year. No impacts were found on food expenditures or on food security indicators. These findings suggest that warrantage systems, when established through trusted community institutions, can positively influence household incomes and farmers’ investment behavior.
  • Publication
    Policy Solutions to Close Gender Gaps in the Agriculture Sector in Nigeria
    (Washington, DC, 2022-07) World Bank
    Substantial gender gaps exist in labor force participation and productivity in the agriculture sector in Nigeria. Closing the gender productivity gap in agriculture could lead to sizable gains in the Nigerian economy, boosting gross domestic product. Key factors driving the gender gaps in agriculture include women farmers’ limited use of farm inputs, choice of lowvalue crops, and lower productivity of hired labor. To successfully close gender gaps, policy makers not only need a detailed account of what drives these gaps, but also a rigorous evidence base on cost-effective policy options. This brief offers guidance on interventions that could be adopted to address the underlying constraints faced by women farmers in Nigeria. These recommendations could also meaningfully inform the framework and implementation of the National Gender Policy on Agriculture.
  • Publication
    Two Heads are Better Than One: Agricultural Production and Investment in Côte d’Ivoire
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-05) Donald, Aletheia; Goldstein, Markus; Rouanet, Léa; Rouanet, Léa
    Increasing agricultural productivity and investment is critical to reducing poverty, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where agriculture remains the dominant income-generating activity. One potential way to promote investment and improve the efficiency of household farm production is to empower women as co-managers and facilitate the coordination of production decisions within the family. The authors test this approach in Côte d’Ivoire through a couples training delivered to rubber producers, and find that including women in economic planning improved the efficiency of household farm production and promoted higher levels of investment.
  • Publication
    Top Policy Lessons in Agriculture
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-03) World Bank
    This policy brief summarizes key policy lessons from the Africa Gender Innovation Lab on ways to empower women farmers.
  • Publication
    Reducing the Agricultural Gender Gap in Cote d'Ivoire: How has it Changed?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-02) Donald, Aletheia; Lawin, Gabriel; Rouanet, Lea; Rouanet, Léa
    Over the last decade, Cote d’Ivoire has witnessed a remarkable shrinking of its gender gap in agricultural productivity. When comparing similar households, the gender gap has been reduced by 32 percent.
  • Publication
    The Impact of Strengthening Agricultural Extension Services: Evidence from Ethiopia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-04) Buehren, Niklas; Goldstein, Markus; Molina, Ezequiel; Vaillant, Julia
    Extension services have been implemented on a large scale in developing countries for decades. However, there is little evidence on their impact on the productivity and welfare of farmers. Our study aims to begin to fill this evidence gap with the goal of identifying and encouraging the uptake of best practices for the delivery of extension services by governments.Our findings suggest that strengthening extension services to make them more responsive to the needs of farmers can induce a switch to more commercial, market-oriented agriculture.Female-headed households seem to have benefited equally from the extension services project but it did not contribute to reducing the gender gap in agricultural outcomes as their initial levels of wealth and consumption, as well as labor and capital endowments were lower.Additional research is required to identify extension services designs that contribute to closing the gender gap, by addressing more specifically the challenges faced by women in areas such as labor and capital endowment.
  • Publication
    Time and Money: A Study of Labor Constraints for Female Cotton Producers in Cote d'Ivoire
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-05) Carranza, Eliana; Donald, Aletheia; Jones, Rachel; Rouanet, Léa; Rouanet, Léa
    A gap between male and female farmers in agricultural production, both in terms of output and productivity, has been largely documented across Sub-Saharan Africa. The Africa Gender Innovation Lab has produced a body of evidence, including the Levelling the Field report and the Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity report, that identified constraints women farmers face, determined the size and cost of the gap in agricultural productivity, and offered promising policy options and emerging new ideas to test. One of the key findings from the levelling the field report is that labor presents the main barrier to achieving gender equality in productivity. Across the six profiled African countries, authors observe a combination of women deploying fewer household male laborers on their plots, male laborers generating lower returns for female farmers relative to male farmers, and female farmers facing challenges in hiring effective outside labor. In this policy brief, we investigate and provide explanations for female farmers’ labor constraints through a mixed-methods study within the cotton sector of Côte d’Ivoire, as part of the Côte d’Ivoire Agriculture Sector Support Project’s efforts to increase female participation in cotton production. We first quantify the gender gap in labor usage, then look at the drivers of this gap and how they constrain women’s cotton production and productivity, and finally offer recommendations for policymakers. Several key policy considerations emerge based on our analysis, relating to labor financing and gender norms. Adopting solutions to ease female farmers’ labor constraints will not only increase their productivity, but also boost economic growth as an increasing share of the population becomes involved in the cultivation of higher-value crops.
  • Publication
    Costing the Gender Gap
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-12) Goldstein, Markus; Torkelsson, Asa
    In sub-Saharan Africa women comprise a large proportion of the agricultural labor force, yet they are consistently found to be less productive than male farmers. The gender gap in agricultural productivity-measured by the value of agricultural produce per unit of cultivated land-ranges from 4-25 percent, depending on the country and the crop.1 The World Bank Africa Gender Innovation Lab, UN Women, and the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative jointly produced a report to quantify the cost of the gender gap and the potential gains from closing that gap in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. This report illustrates why the gender gap matters. Closing the gender gap of 28 percent in Malawi, 16 percent in Tanzania and 13 percent in Uganda could result in gross gains to GDP, along with other positive development outcomes, such as reduced poverty and greater food security. However, it is important to stress that these potential gains do not come without cost. Closing the gender gap will require changing existing or designing new policies, which may require additional resources.