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Ten things to know about gender equality and rural poverty in East and Southern Africa

©IFAD/Mwanzo Millinga

In sub-Saharan Africa, women in employment are more likely to be employed in agriculture than in any other sector. The female share of those who are economically active in agriculture is 51 per cent for Eastern Africa and 42 per cent for Southern Africa.
The labour participation rate for men and women varies throughout the region. In many countries, the labour participation rate is almost identical for men and women, while in some countries like Eritrea and Mauritius, it is considerably lower for women. ©IFAD/R. Ramasomanana


The literacy rate for young men and women in the region is close to 100% in many countries. However, in countries like Angola, Mozambique and Zambia, the literacy rate for young women is only 65-67%, up to 15% lower than the male rate in the same country. ©IFAD/Petterik Wiggers

In East and Southern Africa, girls and young women are disproportionately affected by HIV. Prevalence rates among young women aged 15 to 24 years are almost two and a half times higher than among men of the same age with significant variations between countries. ©IFAD/Elisa Finocchiaro

Women’s work is often unpaid. In Tanzania for example, improving infrastructure for water and fuel collection and food preparation could free women from a burden that represents 8 billion hours of unpaid work per year, or 4.6 million full-time jobs. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Women’s land rights are often weaker than men’s, both customary and statutory, including inheritance. In East and Southern African, only 2 per cent of land is registered in women’s names. ©IFAD/Clarissa Baldin

The gender gap in access to credit is prevalent in East and Southern Africa. While women have the same legal rights to access bank loans as men in most of the region, women are often restricted in accessing these loans by discriminatory practices. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Land degradation is prevalent throughout the Eritrea, particularly in the highlands, with a degraded area covering 2,4 million ha, constituting 19% of the total area of the country. Our project is working to address these challenges. WFP/Evelyn Hockstein-Polaris.

In most countries in the region, the constitutions require that women hold 30% of elective offices, but there are still great variations. In Rwanda, women hold 56% of the seats in parliament, while in Kenya, only 10% of the seats in parliament are held by women. ©IFAD/Mwanzo Millinga

For East and Southern Africa, the primary school net enrolment ratio reaches 87 per cent for both boys and girls. Yet, the secondary school net enrolment rate for ESA is only 30 per cent, with 28 per cent girls and 32 per cent boys enrolled in secondary school. ©IFAD/R. Ramasomanana


Sources: 1: FAO, State of Food and Agriculture, 2010-11, 2: World Bank, 2011, 3: World Bank, 2010, 4: UNICEF, 5: FAO, State of Food and Agriculture, 2010-11, 6: Harold Liversage, ESA Land Tenure Adviser, IFAD. Workshop presentation: Gender, Land & Natural Resource Rights at IFAD – ESA Regional Gender Learning and Sharing Forum in Kenya 28-30 Nov. 2012, 7: OECD, 2012, 8: MDG Report , 2012, 9: World Bank 2013, 10: UNICEF