NAIROBI– The attainment of gender parity, food security, and improved health outcomes for African women and girls will be dependent on sustained investments in digital technologies, senior officials said on Wednesday at a virtual event to mark International Women’s Day.

African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment Josefa Sacko said bridging the gender gap in technology access will boost crop yield in the continent by more than 20 percent, and reduce the population of the hungry population by 12 percent.

“Digital tools present abundant opportunities for women in Africa’s agri-food systems. It will lead to improved food security, rural incomes, and climate resilience,” said Sacko.

Convened by Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the virtual forum that coincided with the launch of the 2023 Women Agripreneur Awards renewed the call for accelerated digitization as a means to address power imbalance among men and women, transform food systems amid climate-induced stagnation.

Sacko said this year’s International Women’s Day, held under the theme of “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, should inspire African governments to leverage digital tools in their quest to become food secure, gender inclusive, and environmentally sustainable.

Access to technologies, innovations, finance, and markets will boost the capacity of African women to transform agricultural value chains amid threats linked to climate change, pests, diseases, and shrinking arable land, said Sabdiyo Dido Bashuna,  the head of Gender and Inclusiveness at AGRA.

She added that governments should address policy, cultural, and funding bottlenecks that have limited uptake of technology among African women farmers, to the detriment of food security and rural development.

She noted that technology has motivated African women to venture into agri-business, leading to higher export earnings, job creation, and improved food and nutritional security in the continent.

Jemimah Njuki, the chief of the Economic Empowerment section at UN Women, said investing in supportive infrastructure, training, and capacity building will be key to ensuring that there is gender parity in access to technologies crucial for streamlining Africa’s agricultural value chains. – Xinhua