The role of women in key economic sectors underpinned by SET: the case of the agricultural and agroprocessing sector
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Agriculture is often promoted as the backbone of the rural economy and a driver of rural economic development. However, a number of historical and current changes at the national and international level are seriously affecting the agricultural sector. With this as the backdrop the Human Sciences Research Council: Economic Development and Performance (HSRC:EPD) conducted a scoping study focusing on women in the sector as a whole, on behalf of the Science, Engineering and Technology for Women (SET4W), a permanent national advisory committee of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI). The purpose of the study was to investigate the extent to which women are involved across the broad spectrum of the agricultural sector. Broadly, the agricultural value chain has at least three primary components, all of which selectively use SET Research and Development (R&D). These are farming (primary agricultural production), post harvest and agroprocessing, and retail and trade (agricultural output markets, including discount retailers). Another component is the service or support sector which provides both inputs and technical services. These components formed the working definition of the study. The study had the following objectives:
1. Investigate the roles that women play in the sector;
2. dentify the challenges they face as participants in the sector; and
3. Determine what can be done (in policy terms) to enhance their contribution to this sector by virtue of increasing numbers, skill levels and ultimately influence (decision making and power relations) so that SET research not only involves women but also focuses on and benefits the unique position and circumstances of women in society.