Gender transformation : According to the World Population Review Report of 2018, about 49.32 per cent of the Nigerian population is female. Although women represent between 60 per cent and 79 per cent of Nigeria’s rural labour force, males are five times more likely to own land than females and this affects their ability to access other productive assets and reduces the earning potential of agriculture. The Federal Government of Nigeria’s first National Gender Policy was approved in 2006 with an implementation plan developed in 2008. Despite new legal frameworks, gender inequalities persist and the majority of rural women continue to have less access to basic social services and productive resources than men. Socio-cultural norms continue to restrict opportunities for women’s empowerment and particularly for rural women. In order to address these challenges, the Government adopted a Gender Policy in Agriculture in 2016 to ensure the adoption of gender sensitive and gender responsive approaches to the agriculture sector.
With AF2019, VCDP will take transformative action to help women maximize their potential in food commodities and build on achievements for rural women’s economic empowerment and leadership in decision-making bodies. Accordingly:
- Forty-nine per cent of VCDP beneficiaries will be women, as against 39 per cent currently;
- Implementation of the Gender Action Learning System will be strengthened, to empower beneficiaries to address underlying gender barriers limiting the progress of women and households;
- The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) will be included within VCDP’s monitoring and evaluation system. The baseline study will include a pro-WEAI assessment. To capture VCDP-AF performance on gender aspects, WEAI indicators on gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) will be evaluated, like (i) autonomy in production and ownership of assets; (ii) control over use of income; (iii) leadership; and (iv) workload;
- Policy engagement will be reinforced in VCDP-AF with an ongoing focus on: (i) enhancing rural finance access for women to engage in agribusiness; (ii) improving access to a more structured market; and (iii) facilitating better access to land for women.
Youth: Nigeria is home to the largest population in the region and by implication the largest number of youth. The majority of the youth lives in the rural areas. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) classified some 30 per cent of the Nigerian youth (15-34) as unemployed, and another 25 per cent as underemployed. Taken together, more than 50 per cent of Nigeria’s young people are thus either unemployed or underemployed. In addition, the ILO estimates that some 60 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Nigeria are in working poverty. According to the Brookings Institution, women accounted for more than 50 percent of unemployed youth between 2008 and 2012. With the average age of Nigerian farmers at 59 years old and expected to rise between 75 and 80 years by the year 2030, the food security of the Nigerian people could be under threat if youth continue to disengage from agriculture. Nigeria’s ERGP highlights the untapped potential to engage young people in the agricultural sector for job creation, economic diversification and food security. The Government’s Green Alternative – Agricultural Policy prioritizes youth in agriculture. The 2017 National Employment Policy identifies the transformation of the agricultural sector as critical for employment generation including for young people. The Nigeria Youth Policy states “the Federal Government recognizing the extent of the youth unemployment crisis in Nigeria and the threat it poses to economic and social stability, identified agriculture as the single sector with the highest potential for massive job creation”.
VCDP AF2019 aims to scale up VCDP’s success in youth engagement, with specific attention to young women. It is expected to be complemented by a policy grant that, along with the government, will bring together the expertise of IFAD, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The objective is to generate evidence for policy engagement with the government and other development partners, so as to step up approaches and investments for Nigerian youth entrepreneurship and employment in agricultural value chains.