Women, the Heart of Humanity
By Nellie Kanyemba Kapatuka
There is no tool for development as effective as empowering women, says a famous quote by Kofi Anan. Women have the potential to do everything they put their heart to and, their contribution to agriculture, more especially in Africa, can never be underestimated.
Growing up, I have always seen women as the frontier of agriculture apart from their usual roles of taking care of their homesteads. Even though this is the case, some African cultures do not allow women to legally own land despite them being actively engaged in agricultural production.
As Mahnaz Afkhami said, women empowerment is intertwined with respect for human rights, there is a point most African cultures are missing when it comes to women land tenure. Women can make so much difference given the right platform and resources.
The recent 2019 Global Soil Week brought out a lot of issues regarding women’s access to land in most African countries. It also brought to light how women can be empowered by giving them access to land for farming as means to contribute to agricultural production in Africa.
Some of the most valuable takeaways from the Global Soil Week included giving women access to land for agricultural production. Success stories from Kenya and Burkina Faso, where women are now able to have land of their own is something worth celebrating. Other countries surely need to borrow a leaf, however there is a need to formulate deliberate policies targeting women to ensure they have an enabling environment for sustainable climate resilient agriculture.
Alice Kaudia, one of the #GSW2019 moderators said, women are an asset in agriculture as they make timely decisions and greatly contribute to farming activities in their households.
“Women are the heart of every household, they make things happen and given proper opportunities, women have proved to be the movers and shakers, hence the need to get them involved in agriculture by empowering them”, she said.
This statement truly reflects how women can add a lot of value and bring a new face in African agricultural production, but again, women empowerment alone is not enough to boost Africans agriculture sector, other different factors like finance and market creation and access also comes to play.
Talking about finance, there is a greater need for governments and partners to put deliberate policies in giving women start up loans for them to grow their agricultural enterprise and operations. This reflects a case study of what One Acre Fund is doing in multiple African countries, providing loans to less privileged farmers. This model can be embraced by most governments in scaling-up finance for women and other smallholder farmers as a way to make hunger a thing of the past in Africa.
Market access just like finance, needs also the government as an enabler of creating environments for sustainable climate smart agriculture, to take up the challenge of finding markets for their local farmers. Through this, governments can also be able to collect revenue thereby boosting their economies.
However, for all of this to happen, there is also a need for people to take up different roles in managing and conserving the environment including the soil, knowing that without healthy soils, no agricultural production can happen.
Statistics have shown that over 24 billion tons of top soils are lost annually across the world due to degradation and siltation caused by human activities.
Soils are the basis of life and are crucial in every aspect of humanity, this is the whole reason why everyone should be taken on board to make sure it is properly conserved and managed.