The agricultural productivity of women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa remains well below its potential. In Mozambique, 40 percent of the members in P4P-supported farmers’ organisations are women, yet they only contribute to about 10 percent of the sales. Through a series of strategic efforts, P4P is empowering women and boosting their productivity.
Women’s low farming productivity in Mozambique is mainly due to their limited access to land and technical services in comparison to men. Unequal roles and unilateral decision making within households give women further disadvantages and less control of their livelihoods. As in other parts of Africa, women generally work for approximately 16 hours a day and spend a great portion of that on unpaid activities.
“It is very difficult to be a woman farmer. We go to the farm carrying the hoe, the tools and the children while our husbands don’t carry anything. When it’s dinner time, my husband sends me home with the same load in order to prepare the food, fetch water and collect firewood, while he waits to be served. Many men don’t help at the farm at all. Some also drink and even beat their wives,” said Emilia Saimone Ntua, a 36 year old mother of six.
Since women have such limited time and access to improved agricultural technologies, their agricultural yields are often lower than those of their male counterparts. This in turn affects their ability to contribute to sales to WFP as well as other markets.
Against this background, P4P and UN Women introduced several key initiatives to tackle these issues faced by women farmers. First, the partners conducted a gender assessment of the agricultural value chains to obtain a greater understanding of the complex gender related challenges in Mozambique. While the results of the assessment helped to inform the P4P country gender strategy and action plan, they also provided the baseline for two recent initiatives in Manica and Tete Provinces. Through these initiatives, P4P and its partners provided an integrated package of activities including labour-saving technologies and gender awareness training.
Equipment to help women save time
The objective of the package of activities is to enable women to manage their time more effectively. Increasing women’s access to labour and time-saving technologies is crucial in order to achieve the desired results. In Manica and Tete, WFP provided women farmers with 227 bicycles on a cost-sharing basis. This meant that the women paid half of the costs, thereby establishing revolving funds for them to manage. Every participating woman was given a mechanical toolkit accompanied by training on how to repair bicycles. Encouraging the women to earn an income from their new bike repair knowledge, they were also trained in basic business skills.
WFP also provided the P4P-supported farmers’ organisations with over 20 cattle as well as oxcarts, ploughs and animal drawn weeders.
Guided by pre-established regulations for the use of the equipment and its maintenance, all members of the farmers’ organisation are allowed to use equipment. By providing the association with collective technologies, cooperation will be promoted amongst the entire group, highlighting the women’s contribution as an important benefit. Looking beyond the benefits for the increased crop production, the initiative is expected to promote healthier household and community relationships in general. The provision of these technologies and training packages were made possible thanks to the successful collaboration between the local government, WFP and its partners NCBA CLUSA, Tillers International and HOPEM.
P4P partners trained on gender awareness
As the second part of the integrated package, WFP organized two “trainings of trainers” for its implementing partners in Manica Province in central Mozambique. The purpose of these training sessions was to promote the use of gender sensitive and participatory approaches in the planning, implementing and monitoring of activities. The first workshop was attended by technical officers from several NGOs, including CLUSA, Tillers International, Fundação Micaia, ADEM, National Peasants Union and Kixiquila, while the second workshop targeted government extension workers.
One of the participants from the local government was Armindo Pedro. “When I first heard about gender awareness, I thought that the concept was very simple, however, during the workshop, I realized that the concept of gender equality is very complex, and that gender issues should be taken into account in all our daily activities”. He continued: “we have to recognize that challenges we have in terms of gender equality are big. At the same time, the tools and methodologies we learnt during the training will help us to promote necessary changes in the community, as well as with our partners”.
The impact of the integrated approach for gender empowerment in Mozambique will be closely monitored and documented, as well as incorporated, into the final P4P evaluation in 2014. Meanwhile, one of the immediate outcomes of the gender awareness workshop was the replication of training sessions at farmers’ organization level. Based on the knowledge they acquired during the P4P gender awareness training, the National Peasant Union and the local NGO, HOPEM (network of men for change), continue to educate farmers by organizing workshops. By using a participatory approach that includes drama and theatre activities, the intention is to tackle the gender stereotypes which lead to discussions about the importance of women’s contribution within the community and the agricultural sector. To date, over 300 farmers have received gender training and the number continues to grow.
Story by Gaia Segola, P4P Mozambique