LILONGWE, December 20, 2021 – Closing significant gender gaps in economic opportunities could lift more people out of poverty and unlock Malawi’s full potential for inclusive growth, shows the World Bank’s latest Malawi Economic Monitor (MEM).
The 14the MEM edition, Fight against macroeconomic and gender imbalances, highlights how Malawi’s economic growth for 2022 is expected to reach 3%. However, this growth is vulnerable to shocks emanating from macroeconomic imbalances. Public debt is high and the budgeted budget deficit of 9.1% of annualized GDP is the highest in recent years, while imbalances in the foreign exchange market can put further constraints on the private sector. External risks could further undermine Malawi’s economic recovery, due to high volatility in energy prices, additional waves of COVID-19 infections, including from new variants, and the risk of disruptions in energy prices. transport.
The government must therefore act decisively to meet the growing macroeconomic challenges, particularly with regard to the accumulation of domestic and external debt. This requires tough decisions in the upcoming FY2022 / 23 budget, including on the Affordable Inputs Program (AIP) and controlling spending on wages and goods and services, improving public finance management systems to use. optimally limited resources, as well as strengthening control of public enterprises.
The MEM also stresses the importance of closing the gender gap, which persists in several economic dimensions. Salaried women workers earn 64 cents for every dollar earned by men; and sales of businesses run by women are lower than those of male entrepreneurs. Although the agricultural sector employs around 59% and 44% of women and men, large gender productivity gaps persist. Plots managed by men produce 25% higher yields than plots managed by women. The agricultural productivity gap is due to a range of factors, including the unequal use of agricultural inputs by women, reduced access to agricultural labor, lower access to improved agricultural inputs and technology, and less participation in cash crop / export crop value chains. In Malawi, estimates suggest that closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity could lift more than 238,000 people out of poverty and increase the country’s total GDP by 2.1%.
âAs the country pursues an inclusive and resilient economic recovery and seeks to break its pattern of low growth, it must aim to remove existing gender barriers. This implies increased access to business opportunities and key inputs needed to increase women’s productivity in agriculture and other sectors, as well as to stimulate women’s human capital accumulation â, said Hugh Riddell, World Bank Country Director for Malawi.
According to MEM, investing in improving women’s economic opportunities requires a wide range of approaches to address key areas affecting women’s ability to participate and perform well in the labor market. They include improving the market prospects of young adolescents, strengthening the management of financial resources by women and promoting the program to end child marriage. They also include improving access to reproductive health services to reduce fertility, end gender-based violence, provide women with access to more productive labor and inputs to build their capacities. agriculture, and provide socio-emotional and vocational training aimed at improving women’s business and life skills. .