Farmers. Mothers. Leaders.
Across sub-Saharan Africa - women grow food, rear livestock, and set up small businesses so they can provide a better life for their families. In fact, women produce up to 80% of the food on small scale farms in Africa! Yet - women and girls often get left behind. Women have less access to vital farm inputs such as seed or equipment and they are less likely to receive training or education.
Self Help Africa is actively working every day to reduce this inequality.
Today, 55% of the people Self Help Africa works with are women. Below are just two of their stories.
Mary Asele (24) from Kepelebyong, Teso, Uganda
Mary is part of a group of women farmers Self Help Africa works with in Northern Uganda. As a child she and her mother fled to a refugee camp escaping the violence of Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army. When it was safe to return, they had to start from scratch on a small subsistence farm that year after year barely provided enough for them to eat.
Mary married young, but her husband left, leaving her as the sole provider for her four young children. With no support, she was struggling to survive on a subsistence farm with poor harvests. Determined to have a better life for her family, Mary could not let ‘tradition’ hold her back.
Two years ago she joined a Self Help Africa initiative to help women farmers in Teso rebuild their farms. Now her family is eating better, and Mary earns a small income. Even though it’s still difficult, being part of the group has given Mary confidence to do well and she is hopeful: “Now I can save a little money. I hope to build a better house, and pay for my children to finish their education” she says.
When rural women are given access to resources, services and opportunities, they become a driving force against hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty.*
Emebet Mekonen in Ethiopia is a shining example of how with just a little investment women farmers can transform their farms, and reap the rewards of their own efforts.
For Emebet, farming has always been her life. It hasn’t always been easy. A couple of years ago, Emebet joined a Self Help Africa initiative supporting local farmers,
most of whom were women. The group received improved maize and teff (local cereal) seed, and were introduced to new growing methods designed to improve crop yields. Emebet’s harvests improved. Soon she was able to sell her crops, and had income to reinvest in her farm. She bought a dairy cow, a small maize thresher and a horse cart. Now, she sells excess milk, and rents her thresher and cart to neighbours.
Emebet Mekonen (centre), with her children (from left) Tomas, Meseret, Asada Niguse and Tsion, from Butajra, Ethiopia.
Emebet’s motivation was her children - ensuring they have enough to eat and stay healthy, and to provide for their education.
“Our lives are better now. We have more nutritious food to eat at home. I earn extra money from renting the thresher, and selling milk. I hope to educate my children until university and help them to begin their own lives.”
International Women’s Day is marked around the world every year on March 8th. This year, you can help make a difference for the women and communities Self Help Africa works with every day. Your support will not only benefit women - it will help elevate an entire community.