The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) estimates that the contributions of African women to economic activities on the continent are considerable, albeit mostly informal.
Women in Africa are responsible for 70 percent of crop production, 50 percent of animal husbandry and 60 percent of market activity.
They undertake nearly 100 percent of food processing activities, in addition to child care and other responsibilities in households.
During an Alliance for Financial Inclusion - Bank of Ghana (AFI-BoG) webinar on 'Integrating Gender Considerations into COVID-19 Policy Solutions', the Governor of BoG, Ernest Addison said that women’s formal ownership of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) currently stands at around a third of all registered SMEs in Africa, and that women-owned SMEs are more likely to have lower sales and annual turnover, less employees, and smaller size than those enterprises owned by men.
According to him, a March 2020 AfricanDevelopment Bank study also confirms that female entrepreneurs dominate key growth sectors such as agriculture, textile and garments and yet lack access to critical funding.
He went on to say that these statistics tell a story that is troubling particularly in the context of the new economic realities that the pandemic has unleashed on the developingworld.
"Emerging and developing economies have been the hardest hit, exacerbating pre-existing inequities which have led to the poor and vulnerable disproportionately bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
"What is more, job losses and the collapse ofmany informal, micro and small businesses -many of which are owned by women, have pushed many out of the financial system," he noted.
Dr Addison mentioned that the global economic outlook remains bleak and uncertain, with recovery projected to be U-shaped, suggesting a slow return to buoyancy.
To this end, he noted that this would mean that the plight of the poor and vulnerable could worsen, unless timely policy interventions areadopted to help prevent a complete reversal of the gains that have been achieved in poverty reduction and financial inclusion in the developing world.
Again, according to Dr Addison, the World Bank’s 2017 Global Findex Survey reported that of the 1.7 billion of unbanked adults globally, 56 percent are women, and in developing economies like Ghana women remain 9 percentage points more likely to beunbanked than men, adding that "In sub-Saharan Africa, only 37 percent of women have a bank account, compared with 48 percent of men, a gap that has only widened over thepast several years.
"There is a global consensus that the pre-COVID 19 economic order was skewedagainst women."
The Governor of BoG stated that his outfit's measures recognised the key role of smaller financial institutions in extending access to financial services to small businesses and low income households, several of whom had lost their businesses or jobs making these financial institutions vulnerable given the heightened credit risk they bore.