The United Nation’s International Women’s Day (IWD) takes place annually across the globe on March 8th, and at Self Help Africa it is an opportunity for us to both celebrate the successes, and highlight the challenges and obstacles that remain for millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa.
IWD is an occasion when women are recognized for their achievements. It’s a time also to highlight the struggles, and look ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women across the globe.
To bridge the ‘gender gap’ Self Help Africa seeks to involve women in all of our development activities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Because in Africa today, women continue to carry out the bulk of the farm work while retaining primary responsibility for the care of children and the elderly, for food preparation, water collection, and providing firewood for the home.
Women carry out most of the land tillage, planting, weeding and harvesting of crops on small farms, and are responsible for transporting produce to market, and for trading farm goods. In many countries it is estimated that women produce up to 80% of food that is grown on Africa’s small farms.
Yet, they currently receive as little as 5% of the support that is available to do this work.
In many instances, African women do not have access to land (in rural Kenya women own just 1% of the farmland on which they work). Where they do access land, it is often the least productive plots that they are expected to farm.
African women are frequently denied access to training and knowledge, to membership of farmer co-operatives and associations, and are unable to access the small loans that might allow them to develop income generating opportunities and improve their farms.
To overcome some of these challenges Self Help Africa targets women for support by providing loans for on and off-farm enterprise development, by engaging with and involving women in training programmes and project initiatives, and by ensuring that African women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
Research shows that if African women were to receive the same support as their male counterparts that food production on small farms would increase by upwards of 20%. Meanwhile, funds earned by women are most likely to be invested in education, health care, and improvements to the family’s living conditions.
How you can help
If you’d like to show your support for International Women’s Day this year, you could make a donation online, or organise an International Women’s Day fundraising event. For more information, call us on 01743 277170 or email us at [email protected].