Malawians’ opportunity to earn income slowed in 2017, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), with statistics showing the country’s economic participation has fallen 73 places to 85 out of 144 economies.
During the same period last year, the country was ranked 12 out of 144 economies, according to the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2017.
This means that opportunities for Malawians to earn income slowed during the year.
According to the report, the country did well on labour force participation (1), estimated income earned (15) and wage equality for similar work (73).
On the other hand, the gender gap also widened this year, slipping 34 places to 101 out of 144 economies on the 2017 WEF Global Gender Gap Index.
The Global Gender Gap Report benchmarks 144 countries on their progress towards gender parity across four thematic dimensions:
economic participation and opportunity,
education attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.
“This is not surprising. Most Malawians have become risk averse in terms of investments, and therefore, reducing the chances of earning more income. This has been due to the economic shocks in the previous year as the economy was more volatile.
“On the other side, Malawi is an agro-based economy and that most females are involved in agriculture and looking at the recent trends in commodity prices, which are lower than last year. This has also contributed to the gender gap getting wider and also the slowing the opportunity to earn income,” said Catholic University dean of social sciences Gilbert Kachamba in an interview on Thursday.
Last year, the United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Environment Programme estimated the gender gap in Malawi in the productivity output of women in the agriculture sector to be at $110 million (K80.3 billion).
In 2015, the United Nations (UN) Women estimated that Malawi loses around K60 billion each year due to widening gender gap in the sector.
But by closing the gender gap, the country could increase its crop production by over 7.3 percent and thereby increasing agriculture gross domestic product (GDP) by $90 million (about K57 billion) UN data shows.
Women activist Faith Phiri is on record as having called for systematic integration and enforcement of gender-related policies in the agriculture sector. n