Business Networks need to work together. Women’s Rights Malawi Mission

On her country visit to Malawi, as part of her SDG social compact campaign for the Gates Foundation, Mrs Machel had the opportunity to engage with the GMT Women’s Rights networks. The progress of the African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAB) since its launch in August 2015 was assessed. The Food Basket project, which aims to help address food security crisis in the region, it is also an important platform to address poverty, promote gender equality as well as create awareness on child marriage and prioritizing girls education.

As Malawi is both an agro and rural based economy, the majority of people living in rural areas are women. As a result of this, a lot of women derive their livelihood from activities in agribusiness. Although women are in the majority in agricultural activities, research found that they remain at the bottom of the value chain, comprising only 1% of commodity trade. Based on this the Food Basket Project emerged. Some of the issues that the project aims address include, amongst others, the need for women to gain access to markets. This remains a major impediment when women try to enter the market because the are often subject to exploitation. Secondly, due to certain stereotypes, it is often difficult for women to secure male labour. There is therefore a need to change the perception that men have of women in agriculture. Thirdly, the need to promote nutritionally fortified crops such as groundnuts, soya and sunflowers, and appropriate training. By putting this into action, it would help Malawi move a step closer to achieving the second goal of the SDG’s i.e. no hunger, through better nutrition. Fourthly, there is a need to understand the needs of women concerning machinery financing options. It would ease the burden of women having to meet capital heavy requirements for acquiring plant and equipment if a wider variety of financing options, such as rental and leasing contracts, was created. Lastly, fertilizer needs to be made more affordable and therefore more accessible by packaging it in smaller amounts,

The trip highlighted the need for the business networks to work together, move faster, get organized, and thoroughly survey the issues that act as barriers to women in Malawi. These issues would thereafter be presented to decision making bodies and challenge them to promote greater gender equality in Malawi’s biggest economic sector, agriculture and agribusiness.

Korkor presenting
Group pic with GMT
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