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Working with women

In sub-Saharan Africa, 80% of agricultural production is by smallholder farmers. And the female share of the agricultural labour force is the highest in the world.

But life for rural women isn’t easy. Women don’t have the same rights as men, and often have to juggle domestic duties and agricultural work - sowing, weeding and harvesting crops, but also making food for their families and collecting firewood and water.

And it can be much harder for women to yield the same results on their farms as men do, as they often have more limited access to land, agricultural extension services and technologies.

Empowering women is a central part of our work – and has been shown to have wider benefits as well. When women prosper, they tend to invest more in their homes and families, giving their children more nutritious food and keeping them healthy. In fact, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation has estimated that if women were given the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase the yields on their farms by 20-30% - which would in turn reduce the number of hungry people in the world by around 12-17%.

In the following video, Mary Temu, a smallholder farmer receiving support from Farm Africa in the Babati District of Tanzania, explains to President of the National Farmers' Union for England and Wales Minette Batters some of the challenges female farmers face in eastern Africa, and how she has become empowered through working with Farm Africa. 

Farm Africa works to understand the challenges that women face in a local context and adapts programmes to fit these conditions. This means:

  • Involving women in the sale of produce at market, giving them more financial independence and a better idea of market prices so they can adapt their farming businesses accordingly
  • Setting up women’s savings and loans groups, so that women can build up good financial records and apply for loans from banks to build up their businesses
  • Running training sessions at times when women can attend them and providing crèche facilities
  • Supporting women with agricultural projects that they can run from their homes, such as beekeeping and raffia weaving

By opening up new opportunities for women, we help them to develop new streams of income, which helps to lift themselves out of poverty. And when women have more economic empowerment and more opportunities, it helps the whole community to grow and prosper.

And that’s why our work with women is so important. Because equality for women really is progress for all.