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Celebrating International Women's Day 2015

25 February 2015

Celebrating International Women's Day 2015

International Women’s Day, 8 March, gives us the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our work with women in eastern Africa.

This year's theme is "Make it Happen,"  which aims to encourage effective action for promoting equality and recognising the contribution women make to agriculture.

This statement resonates strongly in the African agricultural sector. According to The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), women account for 66% of Africa’s agricultural workforce and are responsible for 90% of the food produced. Women are clearly a crucial force in the sector, and yet the International Development Research Centre found that “women in Africa only own 1% of the land”. Simply by equalising access, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that agricultural output in developing countries could be increased by up to 4%.

At Farm Africa we recognise that women play a critical role in farming and rural economic development, and one of the cross-cutting priorities identified in our Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015 is to build female farmers’ skills and opportunities so they can improve their incomes and lead enterprises.

A recently started sesame project has targeted activities, such as modular training in business management and marketing practices, to assist female entrepreneurs in becoming part of the wider value chain. Our Rural Women's Economic Empowerment program (RWEP) has helped more than 15,000 women increase their household income and learn how to the legal system can protect them.  

We have been implementing RWEP in Ethiopia since 2009, and a recent evaluation of the project’s impact highlighted some inspiring outcomes, including:

  • Over 23,000 people (including over 17,000 women) have joined Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs). They received training, tools and technical support, and have so far saved more than 3.6 million Birr, 3.35 million of which was redistributed to VSLA members as business loans.
  • Over 6,000 women have received two breeding nanny goats, and a further 6,301 women received kids produced by those goats. Independent to the project, some of these secondary beneficiaries are now breeding kids to a third group of over 800 women.
  • There are now over 160 Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) who support Women Asset Groups in all project areas. So far, they have provided treatment to over 30,500 sheep, goats and other animals.
  • There are now more than 108 Community Based Legal Advisors (CBLAs) working in the project areas. They visit community venues and events to spread awareness of gender equality including women’s legal rights, and in 2013 they recorded an attendance of over 134,000 people (60% women and 40% men).