Cultivating rural women’s economic empowerment through agro-ecology

14Jul 2021
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Cultivating rural women’s economic empowerment through agro-ecology

​​​​​​​SEXUAL and gender-based violence (GBV) is a daily reality for a large part of Tanzanian women and girls. Reports show that nearly 40 percent of them have experienced physical violence in their lives and 25 percent are victims of sexual violence from the age of 15 years.

44 percent of married women experience physical and sexual violence from their husbands. These rates are even higher in rural and less educated areas.

Faced with this situation, thegovernment, local NGOs and development partners are stepping up programs to combat GBV year after year.

Recently, the MsichanaInitiative in collaboration with the Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), and Practical Permaculture Institute of Zanzibar (PPIZ) launched a new project which is aimed at promoting young women’s empowerment through organic agriculture and thus help address GBV.

Dubbed ‘Girls Empowerment through Agro-Ecology and Permaculture (GAPE)’, the two-yearproject worth over 1.6bn/- ($720,000) willbe implemented in Dodoma, Tabora and Zanzibar. It is funded by the French Embassy.

RebecaGyumi, executive director of the Msichana Initiative told The Guardian in an interview that the projectwill benefit 2,000 selected individuals in the three regions with 90 percent of them expected to be women.

She said the project will support girls in a vulnerable situation through a holistic approach that includes both personal and social emancipation and economic empowerment.

“On one hand the project aims at building the confidence of girls and their ability to stand up for their rights and on the other hand provide them with vocational training and support them in creation of micro/small businesses around agro-ecology.”

It will improve preservation of biodiversity and support smallholder farmers towards an ecological transition.

Gyumi noted that many studies in recent years agree that the fight against gender violence, to be effective, must be accompanied by the economic empowerment of women, without which women face processes of “revictimizations”.

She said that the NGO is targeting toempower girls with knowledge and skills to understand their rights. Girls and especially the victimsof early motherhood will be capacitated to attain economic resilience.

“The project focuses on enabling the young farmers move closer to the more than 50 percent of womenengaging in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises so as to achieve their targeted goals,” she said.

She said that 1000 girls will be reached in Kongwa District, Dodoma and Nzega District in Tabora Region and 1000 other girls will be reached in Zanzibar.

She said the Isles institute will train girls and women on agro-ecology practices and entrepreneurship skills,with about 1000 youth set to be reached in Zanzibar.

“Adolescent girls who have given birth will be assisted to establish income generating activitiesthrough agriculture. We also empower them on value addition to tap all the potentials in the crops,” she said.

Gyumi further said the beneficiaries will be organized into 35 beneficiary groups. However, these groups will include 5 percent men, aged between 15 and 35, in order to involve them more easily in the dialogue that will be put in place throughout the project with the communities concerned on GBV.

Tanzania has in recent years experienced an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme eventssuch as strong winds, heavy rainfall and higher temperatures.

Steven Kiboko, project officer at Msichana Initiative hinted on the note that despite the critical role rural women and girls play in agriculture and management of the family, their role in agriculture planning and decision making is marginalized.

“There is a great need to advance these problems to holistic projects and programmes that include improving food and nutrition security, increasing income for sustainable livelihoods and increasing their participation in all policy and decision making processes. And to ensure that all programmes are gender responsive,” he said.

According to him, rural women and girls generally have limited access to productive assets including land, agriculture inputs, extension services and technology, so this project is going to support address these challenges.

Joyce Joseph (22) from Nzega, TaboracommedendMsichana Imitative and its implementing partners for coming up with the project as it is going to help them acquire vocational training and support them in the creation of small businesses around agro-ecology.

“The project has come at the right time when majority og girls and women are still grappling to fight several kinds of violence that affect their development, so capacitating us with the skills will enable us embark on agriculture projects which also in turn project our nature and ecology for sustainable development,” she said.

She was echoed by Asha Emmanuel who said that that project is going to themto gain self-esteem and awareness of their rights and the means to enforce them, which allows them to minimize the risk of violence and to cope better with persistent cases.

Speaking at the project launch in Dar es Salaamrecently, French Ambassador Frederic Clavier said GAPE will be implemented as part of the embassy’s efforts to support this innovative approach for climate adapted agriculture. It helps to ensure the preservation of biodiversity and inclusive growth of smallholder agriculture.

Supporting women’s organic agriculture activities shall increase productivity andenhance food security in the community, he said.

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