SheTrades: Empowering women and boosting livelihoods through agricultural trade: Leveraging the AfCFTA
The Project SheTrades: Empowering Rural Women in the AfCFTA contributes to ITC’s One Trade Africa Strategy and FAO strategy to support the AfCFTA.
Spanning 54 countries, supporting a market of over 1 billion people, and contributing $2.5 trillion USD to global GDP, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents a ground-breaking opportunity to create a unified continental market, boost Africa’s share of global trade and achieve the goals of Agenda 2063. The AfCFTA is operational since early 2021, and these goals can only be accomplished if the AfCFTA is fair and inclusive. Women’s equal participation in international trade is critical to promoting economic growth, enhancing productivity, increasing international competitiveness and reducing poverty. Moving up the value chain, leveraging networks of women’s associations, upgrading their businesses and tapping into new markets are some of the many benefits women can reap by trading under the AfCFTA. According to FAO, from a food security standpoint, closing the gender gap in agriculture in Africa would lead to a yield increase of 20 to 30 percent and this could reduce by 100 to 150 million the number of undernourished people. ILO estimates that over 90% of women’s employment in Africa is in the agricultural sector, largely informal.
This project works with women traders and producers to identify priority issues and opportunities under the AfCFTA in agriculture and agro-processing, facilitating public-private dialogues to agree on next steps women’s priorities, and providing market intelligence and training to women in a select agricultural regional value chain to help it expand to the continental level.
This project aims to empower women producers, processors and informal and formal traders in agriculture and agro-processing value chains as well as agriculture women-led MSMEs to benefit from trade opportunities created by the AfCFTA through capacity-building, policy research and policy dialogues. The project contributes to ITC and FAO’s ongoing support to the implemention of the AfCFTA.