Senior Project Advisor

Paul, Rachel

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2020


International development, international finance, development economics, African development


The agricultural sector in Africa is positioned to determine the outcomes of perhaps the most consequential and deeply entangled challenges the global community will face in the coming decades: the environmental crisis, population explosion, world poverty and malnutrition, and international cooperation to promote stability within and between countries. As African nations grow, develop, and advance, the future trajectory of their industrialization and international cooperation will determine the prosperity of the global community. According to Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, Former President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IDAD), “clearly, it is necessary to have food systems that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable if we are to feed a growing world population at a time when the earth’s ecosystems are becoming more stressed” (Nwanze, 2018). Women, furthermore, are positioned at the heart of African agriculture: while participation in agriculture varies greatly from community to community, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (hereafter, FAO), depending on the region, women generally make up between 50% and 70% of the workforce in agriculture, producing roughly 80% of agricultural goods (Doss, 2011). African women are therefore positioned at the heart of the global future.

This paper seeks to explore the gendered impacts of global economic integration on women in rural poverty, with particular focus on the role of women in smallholder farms embedded in international trade. What is the relationship between gender, development, and globalization in sub-Saharan Africa? Jagdish Bhagwati, department of economics at Columbia University, defines economic globalization as pertaining to the “integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, direct foreign investment (by corporations and multinationals), short-term capital flows, international flows of workers and humanity generally, and flows of technology” (Bhagwati, 2004, p. 440). In an increasingly globalized world forming bonds of both economic and political stability through trade flows, trade in Africa, particularly in the agricultural sector, is a driving force of economic growth and both economic and political security. Much of sub-Saharan Africa has a comparative advantage in global exportation of agricultural products, providing opportunity to increase global competitiveness and promote economic growth. Additionally, with 98% of the world’s agricultural holdings covering 10 ha or less, smallholder farms in particular are vital towards the creation of economically sustainable production in Africa (Nwanze). While women are at the heart of smallholder farms in rural communities, according to the FAO, for every 100 rural men living in extreme poverty, there are 122 women, creating a sense of interdependency between the future prosperity of the world and smallholder farm women, and between the future prosperity of smallholder farm women and the world.


Political Science

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Farms, Small--Political aspects--Africa; Women in rural development--Political aspects--Africa; Women in agriculture--Political aspects--Africa; Farms, Small--Economic aspects--Africa; Women in rural development--Economic aspects--Africa; Women in agriculture--Economic asoects--Africa

Geographic Coverage



Student project; term paper




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