Gender in Agriculture Partnership

Transforming agriculture to empower women and deliver food, nutrition and income security

How much of the labor in African agriculture is provided by women ?

©FAO-Olivier Asselin

The contribution of women to labor in African agriculture is regularly quoted in the range of 60 to 80 percent. Using individual-disaggregated, plot-level labor input data from nationally representative household surveys across six Sub-Saharan African countries, this study estimates the average female labor share in crop production at 40 percent. It is slightly above 50 percent in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, and substantially lower in Nigeria (37 percent), Ethiopia (29 percent), and Niger (24 percent). There are no systematic differences across crops and activities, but female labor shares tend to be higher in households where women own a larger share of the land and when they are more educated. Controlling for the gender and knowledge profile of the respondents does not meaningfully change the predicted female labor shares. The findings question prevailing assertions regarding substantial gains in aggregate crop output as a result of increasing female agricultural productivity.

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Author: 
Palacios-Lopez, Amparo; Christiaensen, Luc; Kilic, Talip