Starring Women, Changing Mindsets
‘Starring Women’ is the latest publication highlighting key learnings from ICCO’s (Part of Cordaid) project ‘Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS, 2017-2021)’. STARS uses a market system development (MSD) approach to improve food security and wellbeing of more than 200,000 smallholders in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Senegal. The publication shows that although women are the backbone of the agricultural sector, they often lack access to capital and agricultural training, making it impossible to invest in their farm activities.
To address the bottlenecks women face, the project worked with microfinance institutions in the four countries to develop loans that fit the specific needs of female farmers. With good results, because by the end of 2020, STARS provided over 300,000 loans of which 55% went to female farmers.
To achieve these numbers, STARS worked with MFIs to provide remote, digital access to financial services to overcome mobility challenges experienced by women. STARS also provided a number of trainings on leadership, marketing and negotiation to female cooperative members. But most importantly, by engaging with the underlying prejudices MFI staff had against women, STARS was able to address some of the deeply-rooted power imbalances.
“Before, we were convinced that our personal and household income had to be controlled and managed by our husbands, who would also decide on women’s needs. Fortunately, after being trained by ICCO, us women, we have understood our full rights to decide on how we can use and control income generated from our production,” a female farmer in Rwanda explains.
“We learned a lot from ICCO’s STARS trainings. We learned the importance of supporting our wives and working together with them in all production phases until the selling time. We have made our wives more responsible and powerful and the whole family benefits from it,” a male farmer in Rwanda adds.
Read the publication:
More about STARS program.