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Women’s and girls’ empowerment and gender equality (WGEGE)

Economic empowerment of women and girls in rural areas

African women play a central role in the continent’s agricultural sector. They account for 52 percent of the total population in the sector and are responsible for about 50 percent of agricultural labor on farms in sub-Saharan Africa. They also produce 60-80% of the continent’s food.[1]

[1] Bongiwe Njobe, Susan Kaaria, Women and Agriculture: The Untapped Potential in the Transformation Wave. Reference document, AfDB..

However, despite this status, most rural girls and women still face many challenges. The barriers they face compared to men in asserting their contribution to the rural economy and achieving self-reliance are always numerous and complex:

. These obstacles include

– Access to land.    Land is the central factor of production in agrarian economies (Bell, 1990; Obeng-Odoom, 2012). Therefore, the way in which it is accessed, allocated or transferred, controlled and used is an important factor in socio-economic policies and the legal and institutional frameworks associated with them.

Progress has been made in the recognition of women’s rights under national land legislation, and by some communities agreeing to change customs that are not favorable to women and girls’ access to land. But, overall, the non-application of legislation and the attachment of the majority of communities to their customs are at the root of inequalities in access to land by men and women.

-Access to credit. Access to credit is unavoidable for the acquisition of land, machinery, fertilizers, irrigation systems and quality seeds and the hiring of workers. This is why the African Union’s Agenda 2063, established in 2010, calls for women to have access to at least 30% of agricultural financing. Unfortunately, in most countries in the region, especially in rural areas, women’s access to credit remains poor. The main reason is the difficulty for low-income women to make advance savings before obtaining credit, to provide a guarantee or to be unable to grant a mortgage on real estate, for example, since they are less likely to own property than men. While this obstacle is real, it hides several others: men still see themselves as absolute and natural heads of the family, representing all members, and view their women’s financial autonomy with some concern….

-Access to information and technology. The competitive environment of regional and global agricultural trade has increased the constraints on African women engaged in agribusiness and export trade activities. Addressing these constraints requires a number of skills: technical and entrepreneurial skills, skills to improve productivity, and the ability to adapt and cope with change and crisis. Women farmers, who are minority family farmers, tend to receive second-hand information from their husbands and other male relatives. They are less likely to speak the national language in which extension information is generally provided…. 

-Climate change. As actors of development, women and girls suffer more than men from the burdens of environmental degradation and climate change. Paradoxically, because of their multiple family and community responsibilities in a context of increased poverty, they also participate in abusive consumption and production patterns that are one of the main causes of persistent environmental degradation. Indeed, in West Africa as in other sub-regions, the main responsibility for meeting certain household needs falls on women and girls. They are the ones who supply families with firewood and drinking water, for example. When these resources become scarce in the immediate environment, women and girls are forced to travel great distances, with all the risks that this entails, to seek them…  

-Women and young  in the extractive industry :In West Africa, there are nearly 450 mining companies and 34 oil companies. Mining employs nearly 1% of the region’s working population, but is one of the fastest growing sectors. Among the sector’s labor force, women hold less than 5% of available jobs and less than 1% of women are in positions of responsibility 4.  They are more present in artisanal mining. In both industrial and artisanal operations, women are exposed to various forms of violence and are unable to enjoy their rights to social protection. They are less involved than men in decision-making in community consultations, yet suffer more than men from the consequences of expropriation for mining purposes. Despite these constraints specific to women, the extractive industry is a sector where gender issues are very weakly taken into account….

-Women and girls in trade, including cross-border trade

Trade, and in particular cross-border trade, is a sector of activity that employs a majority of women in West Africa. This trade involves a variety of products ranging from loincloths to agro-pastoral products. Cross-border trade in agro-pastoral products plays an important economic role and contributes to food security in the West African region by ensuring the connection between food surplus and deficit areas through the market. Women represent approximately 70-90% of those involved in this trade. As an example, it is estimated that there are about 14664000 women traders on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor. On this corridor, the majority of women are involved in the trade of fish, market garden products and chilli pepper. Apart from the constraints shared by all the actors in cross-border trade, women are particularly affected by the problems of administrative annoyance at the borders because the majority of them are illiterate and do not have a good knowledge of the provisions in force. They encounter problems related to the transport of products and are also confronted with problems of insecurity related to their persons and property. They are subject to harassment by border officials, often due to a lack of knowledge of the standards governing cross-border trade.

  • Our work

The action in favour of empowering women farmers with their political, economic and social rights as an entry point, which began in 2008, continued with several projects.

  • Project: « Using law for rural women’s empowerment in west africa»  

Financial partner : MDG 3 fund of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Countries : Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, Togo.

Objective to enable women members of farmers’ organisations and women of the rural areas in 5 West African countries to know their rights, and to claim them in order to exercise them on the same footing as men in their family, community and professional lives, and ensure their application for the benefit of women in their respective environment. 

Results

  • 250 women’s farmers know women’s rights and are able to work to disseminate and apply them within families, communities and women’s economic activities.
  • At least 60% of the cases of violence and domestic disputes received, particularly those relating to inheritance are settled within the confines of the observance of the rights of women
  • 5,465 talks and sensitisation sessions were conducted and reached 218,040 persons during the project implementation period. Among the persons reached there were 79,973 men and 138,067 women during the project implementation period.
  • the communities hosted 154 radio programmes
  • Sensitisation sessions led women and even men to break silence on what was formerly considered as taboos. Since then, one can say that in the localities of the project « speech is freed »;
  • Women have understood that Violence against Women is not fate and that they are protected by the law, that there are platforms for denunciation and support to victims.
  • The 131 committees established in the five countries received 1,859 cases of which 1,447 were totally resolved, these show a rate of achievement of 83% with an improvement of 17.83% compared to the expected results of the project
  • at least 85% of new cases of violence against women and domestic disputes received, particularly those related to inheritance being settled in conformity with the rights of women.

 

  • There is a legal framework that seeks to promote equal access of men and women to land in the project countries
  • Five (5) national studies on Women’s Access to, Ownership and Control Over Land is available and can been used by any stakeholders in the five countries.
  • 2 countries have new law on land issues and1 country is still on the process leading to law reform

 

  • Parcels of land are allocated by local authorities to women farmers in full ownership or in safe and secure conditions for purposes of collective or individual farming.
  • 676 plots of land have been acquired to the profit of women farmers through the project action. 270 lands previously acquired have been secured through the conclusion of agreement. In some cases, it is a registration according to the land law. In some other cases it is just a contract that binds the two parties.

 

  • The representation of women in community decision-making structures and farmers’ organizations has improved by at least 30%.
  • More than 220 women are holding decision-making positions in the various project implementation areas and especially within farmers’ organisations and community structures.
  • The studies conducted during the extension period show 48% of women have access to decision-making bodies in their community compared to 10% before 2009
  • Traditional authorities commit themselves to spread information among their peers and use every occasion to sensitize their communities
  • Changes in mentality and the abrogation of certain customary practices harmful to women, such as widowhood rites, have taken place in the communities.
  • Mass acceptance of the celebration of registration marriage in some villages ;

 

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  • Project « West african women & farmers against poverty »

financial Partner ; fonds Funding Leadership Opportunities for Women (FLOW) of Ministry of foreign affairs of Netherlands. 

 Countries : Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Togo.

ObjectiveTo contribute to poverty reduction by supporting rural women to organise and act   to enjoy their economic, social and political rights on an equal basis with men. 

Results :

  • the 322 women trained are all active in management of violation of right that is a result of 100%. With regard to leadership, they are 233 over the 322 members trained (72%) ;
  • 149 leaders of farmers’ organisation trained on basic notions of women’s rights ;
  • a study on access to land is available in Liberia ;
  • 4292 sensitisation and popular legal education sessions and legal assistance carried out in 77 project communities and neighbouring villages, reached 208,437 people, including 120,070 women and 81779 men ;
  • 77 community committees for defence of women’s rights, established ;
  • popular legal education campaigns and legal assistance achieved towards 77 communities of the project and neighbouring villages, allowed for supporting in total 5513 of which 3707 cases of legal assistance and 1806 cases of legal advice;
  • 526 traditional leaders in the five (5) countries have spoken and acted in support of women’s rights or have worked towards improvement of customs or traditional practices ;
  • the project allowed for noticing changes in 16 practices considered as harmful and were preventing women enjoy their rights ;
  • 159 men and women leaders of ROPPA farmers’ organisations trained, have organised restitution session for their peer members of executive boards of which they are members or within their respective farmers’ organisations to inform them on what they have learnt ;
  • 12,383 women gained access to land, credit, technology and other resources for production in the five (5) project countries :
  • 2260 women had access to land ;
  • 4453 women had access to credit;
  • 2825 women had access to inputs ;
  • 2845 women had access to technology.
  • establishment of a system of land credit and savings credit at reduced interest rates, aimed at promoting women’s access to land ownership ;
  • Advocacy enabled 25 women acquire cane planters, 31 women had the right to ginning machines and 8 women had the right to a drying tarpaulin;
  • In Togo, 48 women attained decision-making positions in the villages covered as notables of traditional leaders ;
  • In Benin, Two (2) of the Twelve (12) women from the project areas who were positioned on various lists of political parties and participated in local and municipal elections in June 2015, were elected. This was the first time this happened in the project intervention areas. These are the paralegals named EGBAÏ Brigitte from Dékanmè / Agbangnizoun and AGOSSA Suzanne at Monzougoudo ;
  • 821 rural women have increased their capacity and knowledge of food security and are now active in decision-making and advocacy for improved living conditions ;
  • 4,881 women whose capacities have been strengthened in terms of access to production resources are making good use of these new acquisitions ;
  • over 2,725 people affected by news transfer of technologies have achieved an impressive performance thanks to the new technologies ;
  • 90 cooperatives were created in conformity with the 9th OHADA Uniform Act on cooperatives in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo ;
  • a documentary titled “knowledge, respect and exercise of rights, leverage for rural women’s empowerment” relating to the achievements of the two phases of the project: initial FLOW and additional FLOW was achieved and is a vibrant testimony of change achieved in the localities. The video is available in long and short play version both in English and French.

 

 

  • Project: Implementing the Charter of Demands: Kilimanjaro Initiative in Africa (2016-2019)/ Women’s land rights in Africa (2020-2021)

 

Financial partner : International Land Coalition (ILC) 

Countries : Togo, Benin, Senegal, Cameroon, Democratic republi of Congo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso

Objective : To create conditions to facilitate women’s access to and enjoyment of their rights to land and other productive resources and to protect these rights.

 

Results  

  • Mobilisation of West and Central African organisations and participation in the Mount Kilimanjaro climb in October 2016 in Tanzania
  • One thousand (1000) copies of the charter of demands of rural women designed and disseminated (English/French)
  • Nine (09) action plans have been put in place in the countries
  • Awareness raising is continuously carried out with the authorities to ensure that women’s needs are taken into account.
  • Three (3) advocacy documents available and popularised in French/English: “Rural women have chosen you to defend their cause”, “Kilimanjaro Manifesto: Women and Valiant Women of Rural Africa” “The land, our common ancestral heritage“.
  • One thousand (1000) copies of a French/English image box designed and published entitled “Let’us work for the respect of women’s land rights: The land is our common ancestral heritage
  • Capacity building of women’s organisations in the countries covered by the project.
  • Establishment of 7 regional coalitions composed of CSOs involved in the promotion of women, farmers’ organisations, traditional and religious authorities, the NES (National Engagement Strategy) platform, actors from the judiciary, the national order of surveyors) in the countries covered by the project.
  • Development of an action plan by the coalitions

 

 

 

Project :« Development of economic opportunities for rural women through empowerment in the local dairy sector and land governance » DGD Program

Financial Partner : OXFAM –Belgique

Countries :   West Arica

Objective : Supporting farmers’ organisations to take gender into account in their activities for a successful, sustainable and family-oriented agricultural sector

 

Results

  • report on the implementation of the measures for granting 30% of developed land to women, enshrined in the Land Orientation Law, in the intervention zone of the Samendeni Valley Integrated Development Programme (PDIS) in Burkina Faso ;
  • a document analysing the impact of COVID 19 on women in the sub-region, published under the title “West African women facing COVID. 7 realities/solutions”, published jointly with other organisations in the sub-region ;
  • a study and documentary on the impact of COVID 19 on women dairy farmers in Burkina Faso ;
  • A Policy Paper of the study ;
  • training in experience capitalisation

 

  • Project Promoting women farmers’ economic and social rights through sub regional policies »

 

Financial Partner : Diakonia

Country : West Africa

Objective : To contribute to the effectiveness of the economic and social rights of women farmers and those involved in the business of agricultural products by supporting the implementation process of ECOWAS relevant policies.

 

Results

  • 77% of the women farmers’ and pastoralists groups and national WiLDAF networks in 13 countries (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Benin, Niger, Togo, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria) that received information, participated in National Agricultural Investment Plan, Food Security and Nutrition (NAIFSN) process;
  • representation of some WiLDAF national networks in spaces designed to influence process NAIPFSN. example WiLDAF Côte d’Ivoire, which through the National Network of Agro-Processors of Côte d’Ivoire, was actively involved in participating in the various thematic workshops for the preparation of the NAIPFSN;
  • In 50 % of West African countries, women groups and women farmers were recognised by the NAIPFSN (National Agricultural Investment Plan, Food Security and Nutrition) designing, implementation and evaluation committees as key actors;
  • The integration of gender and women’s rights in the NAIPFSN;
  • Effective gender mainstreaming in the RAIPFSN (Regional Plan for Agricultural Investment and Food and Nutritional Security), in the ECOWAS youth employability strategy;
  • Designing of 3 tools: advocacy, awareness raising for women land rights and monitoring and evaluation tools on RAIPFSN and NAIPFSN and Kilimanjaro;
  • the monitoring and evaluation tool serves to produce a shadow report on the level of implementation of the regional plan (RAIPFSN);
  • The advocacy tool based on rural women’s demands in the Kilimanjaro charter to support the implementation of regional and national agricultural investment plans and food and nutrition security developed has been presented to the 1st anniversary of Kilimanjaro in Addis November 2017 as one of the two tools to adapt and use at country level to support the implementation of the Charter; printed and disseminated for advocacy purpose;
  • set up and launch of the ECOWAS Network of parliamentarians on gender Equality and Investment in Agriculture and Food Security, thanks to CSO including WiLDAF-AO advocacy actions;
  • for the 2nd anniversary of Kilimanjaro, WiLDAF-AO coordinated a vast movement of more than 70 rural women from countries of West Africa and all over the other regions of Africa and who are engaged in Kilimanjaro initiative to advocate and make their voice heard during the launching of the network on gender equality of the parliament;
  • WiLDAF-AO engage the ECOWAS commissions on Kilimanjaro Initiative demanding for concrete actions for rural women ;
  • Study on specific problems that face women selling agricultural products on the corridor Abidjan-Lagos is available;
  • 288 people from various sectors of activity, impacted by the awareness raising caravan organized in March 2018, on trade barriers on the Abidjan-Lagos corridor by the Borderless Alliance in partnership with the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organization (OCAL), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), National Facilitation Committees (CNF), Chambers of Commerce and Industry of various countries and board of shippers, under the direction of ECOWAS Commission as part of its advocacy efforts for cross border trade facilitation in West Africa;
  • ECOWAS parliamentarians increased their knowledge and capacity on Large Scale Land Acquisition ;
  • advocacy and sensitisation tools are designed and use for cross border trade campaign
  • awareness raising campaign on the respect of women’s rights and harassment on women traders at the border’s negative socio-economic effects;
  • advocacy document on the impact of Covid19 on women, titled « West african women facing Covid : 7 Facts /soution is available and   disseminated 30 July 31st, 2020, devoted to African Women’s Day ;
  • strengthen the capacity of WiLDAF staff and members at regional level for a better influence at regional and sub regional levels and the enhancement of their management capacity.

 

  • Project: «Women’s land rights for Inclusive Development and Growth in Africa (WIDGRA)

Financial partner : Oxfam Panafrica

Countries : Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Togo, South Africa and Tunisia

Objective : to ensure women’s access to and control over their land resources across Africa.

 

Results

30 participants trained in Transformative Leadership for Women’s Rights, and advocacy.

  • 28 civil society members were trained as trainers to build the capacity of rural women and their communities to document violations of women’s land rights ; to integrate gender issues in large-scale land investments in their activities to promote women’s access to and control over land in their localities
  • 25 civil society organisations have had their capacity strengthened in documenting the pronounced cases of women losing their land rights in the context of large-scale land investments, and have increased their advocacy skills to engage with governments, RECs and the AU on women’s land rights
  • Three decrees for the application of the land code signed in Togo pave the way for the application of provisions of the land code favourable to women.
  • Advocacy at the local level for community leaders and at the national level for key ministries
  • The Ministry of Town Planning, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Justice, organized popularization sessions of the code in easy French and images throughout the national territory.
  • The Ministry integrates women from 40 to 50% in all its projects
  • It is planned that 30% of the developed land will be reserved for women in agropoles.
  • Civil society organisations have tools / scorecards to monitor governments and RECs in the implementation of African Union land rights instruments and other relevant laws and policies on women’s land rights
  • Produce national reports and the respective communication and advocacy materials on the evidence base – as part of the advocacy campaign
  • Production and disseminate of a report : “Women’s Land Rights for Inclusive Development and Growth in Africa : A report on Togo
  • Development and production of a policy brief : “Securing women’s land rights to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
  • An advocacy plan developed and validated
  • 9 pairs were trained for Replication of training on the Community Engagement Tool (CET)
  • 18 replications of the training on the CET which made women and communities aware of the Large-Scale Land-Based Investments (LSLBI). Those replications affected 1,455 people including 1,129 women and 326 men.

 

 

  • Project : “Gender and investment in agriculture and food security to meet the challenge of zero hunger” (in progress)

 

Financial partner : FAO

Countries : Togo-Ghana- liberia -Niger-Sierra Leone,

Objective : To build capacity and policy dialogue with parliamentarians in order to increase their knowledge of the tools needed to engage in the development of legislation and policies that contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment in the agricultural, rural and family sectors to accelerate progress towards the goals of zero hunger and sustainable development

 

Results (in progress)

  • Parliamentarians’ strengthened in Niger and Sierra Leone, togo on gender mainstreaming in the agricultural sector
  • Parliamentarians’ strengthened in Togo with the development of actions plan and recommandation following the Forum for parliamentary

 

In the period 2018, WiLDAF-AO has also started actions in a fast growing sector where women face many inequalities: the extractive industries. Thus, the project :

 

  • Project : “Gender and the extractive industries, a programme to improve political participation in the governance of the extractive industries sector”.

 

Financial partner : Oxfam America

Country : West African sub-region

Objective : To involve women and girls in the governance of the extractive sector by ensuring that their rights are respected and their specific needs taken into account.

It resulted in :

– The production of a study report on “the legislative framework for mining in the ECOWAS region: review and recommendations for gender mainstreaming in the regional code”.

– Strengthen the capacity of women’s rights organisations on the issue of women in the extractive industries.

– With the participation of other partners, notably OXFAM- West Africa based in Dakar, ensure that gender issues in the extractive industries are taken into account by ECOWAS, notably in the ECOWAS mining code

– The launch in July 2022 of the 30% Extractive Sector Development Funds Campaign to strengthen women’s socio-economic empowerment and girls’ education, on the margins of the African Union summit

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Newsletter N°90 Avril 2022

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Women’s and girls’ empowerment and gender equality (WGEGE)

WiLDAF, Sub Regional Office for West Africa was established in April 1997. It is part of a pan African women’s rights network established in 1990, initially based in Harare, but now based in Lomé, Togo. It dedicated to promoting and strengthening strategies which link law and development to increase women’s participation and influence at the community, national and international levels.

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Tokon Witti, Lome Togo

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