UN Women launched a Standard Bank Group funded project, known as “Contributing to the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa Through Climate Smart Agriculture” on 22 October 2019 in Nsalu, Lilongwe West.
The project will seek to close the gender gap in agricultural productivity and empowering women farmers through strengthening women’s productivity and access to markets. The project is expected to reach over 50,000 women in Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa over three years. Standard Bank has committed around $3 million for the project with Malawi receiving MK340 million ($450,000).
Through the initiative, 10,000 women farmers in Lilongwe Rural, Mchinji and North Mzimba will be provided with entrepreneurial and financial capacities, affordable technology and value addition and information and communications technology (ICT) to participate in the groundnut value chain.
The project was conceived following a qualitative study investigating factors that drive the gender gap in 2017. The study showed that due to some cultural norms, traditional practices as well as policy and technical barriers, women are far behind men in terms of women participation in production of crops of high value, access and control for land by women, access and utilization of improved seeds, access to extension and markets among others. It was also concluded that closing that gap between men and women would contribute positively to the social economic situation of the country.
During the launch at Gwiritse Cooperative in Nsalu, The Chief Director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Dr Yanira Ntupanyama said this timely initiative will transform lives of women farmers, especially with women being more likely than men to be affected by climate change. She commended the commercial bank for empowering women farmers.
Standard Bank Chief Executive Officer, William Le Roux said “no farming activity in this country can be successfully undertaken without our women. We are happy to know that by using the climate smart approach to farming, a sustainable way has been found to increase productivity and incomes while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and attendant climate change.”
The UN Women Representative, Clara Anyangwe said “The impact of Climate Change was equally identified as one of the key factors driving the gender gap between men and women.” She therefore noted the “significance of inclusive programming and implementation of development projects without leaving women behind.”.
Anyangwe thanked Standard Bank who is “ well known as a corporate champion for the HeForShe campaign and this on its own speaks volumes about the passion and commitment that the Bank has on issues of empowering women economically, socially and politically.”
One of the women farmers from Ukwe EPA in Mzimba, Elisha Dziwe remarked that women have inadequate access to climate smart extension services to women farmers.
“I look forward to learning how to increase my groundnuts production that has declined because of recent changes in climatic conditions,” said Dziwe.
Approximately 450 people and stakeholders from the agriculture value chain attended the launch.