A non-governmental organsation is advocating for a policy change with the goal of promoting economic empowerment for women.

The Association for Strengthening Agriculture and Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) has convened a workshop in Nairobi to understand gender mainstreaming in the region and come up with ways to boost women’s participation in agriculture through the use of technology.

Ojongetakah Enokenwa, a researcher with the IWMI.
Ojongetakah Enokenwa, a researcher with the IWMI.

“We decided to organise this workshop on policy dialogue on gender mainstreaming and climate-relevant agriculture within the region to understand what our 15 member states are doing to promote the welfare of women,” said Enoch Warinda, chief executive officer of ASARECA.

Dr Warinda said the majority of farmers in these countries are women and that access to technology that can make them increase their productivity is a key thing.

“If we don’t have a good gender policy that can help these women to access good climate smart technology then we are failing,” he said.

Dr Warinda said there is a need to have a workable policy that supports women at the local level as farmers and in leadership so that they can influence policy decisions.

He said ASARECA is targeting to have a gender focal person in every member state, who will be senior government officials working within the agriculture docket, with links to smallholder farmers.

The workshop brings together policy experts from regional countries who will be instrumental in pushing the message for implementation.

“These experts will help us to push for the implementation of gender mainstreaming and ensure that a budget is set aside for gender-based activities so that these policies are not only on paper but are acted upon,” he said.

ASARECA has developed a tool dubbed policy practice tool to be used in collecting activities that the agency is doing on policy analysis and formulation.

The tool will help in showing the impact that gender mainstreaming has had, for instance, it will give an analysis of women that this project has elevated from poverty.

The workshop brings together other partners from the region who are also keen on improving the welfare of women.

Idil Ires, postdoctoral fellow at International Water Management Institute said they are focusing in understanding policy challenges in the context of sustainable maize intensification and diversification in East and Southern Africa with interest women and youth farmers.

 Idil Ires, postdoctoral fellow with IWMI. All photos:BDA.
Idil Ires, postdoctoral fellow with IWMI. All photos:BDA.

“We are trying to understand what kind of issues they are facing every day, especially in access to water and intensifying of maize production which is a stable food in the region,” said Dr Ires.

She said together with other stakeholders such as government and researchers they make science-based recommendations that that help the youth and women to improve their livelihood.

Ojongetakah Enokenwa, a researcher with the IWMI said they mainly support smallholder farming community as well as agribusiness in order to complete the value chain that will give women and the youth access to the market.

She said they are assisting ASARECA in drafting a policy framework that can help in supporting women and marginalized groups within the agribusiness setup.

“With women making the majority of the agriculture landscape, we need their voices to be heard, not just understanding their challenges but also what solution they can offer for this discourse,” said Dr Enokenwa.