ICCO at the GBR Women of Character Summit in Lesotho
“Women should get equal opportunities in the agribusiness.” That is what Helene van der Roest -ICCO’s regiomanager of Central and Southern Africa- stated at the Women of Character Summit in Lesotho, organized by Global Business RoundTable (GBR) in the beginning of September.
“If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they would increase the yields of farms by 20%-30% and reduce hunger by up to 17% according to the FAO,” said Helene van der Roest. “In addition, women plough back profits to their households, therefore alleviating poverty from the bottom up.” ICCO’s regional manager was invited to speak on the theme “Opportunities for women in agriculture” and she did address these opportunities, indeed. As favourable actions for women farmers to be successful she mentioned:
- Access to land and capital
- Access to market with gap certification
- Sufficient training and capacity development
- Creating value addition on products
- Connecting women into cooperatives
- Mentoring confidence and role models
- Promote specific gender value chains where they can be engaged in (like Sheanut growing)
“Women account for nearly half of the world’s smallholder farmers and produce almost 80% of Africa’s food,” Van der Roest taught her audience. But, women farmers have historically been disadvantaged in Africa, as they have struggled to get tenure to the land and gain access to security and finance. Less than 20% of land in Africa is owned by women; over 65% is governed by customary laws that discriminate against women. Many farming women get little income.”
The event -subtitled “There’s strength in the storm”- attracted women from different countries and sectors of society. The objective was to empower women holistically under the theme ‘Arise and Shine’. The plenary sessions covered various topics, from women in business, gender equality, creating opportunities for women in trade and investment to education, personal and spiritual development.