One of Seed Change’s core values is to actively promote female farmers and ensure gender parity in our programs. One might wonder why would we set this policy despite the fact this goes against cultural norms, well read on to find out…
Current legislation in Tanzania gives equal rights to men and women across all issues; however, in rural areas such as Kigoma, customary norms remain very strong. Women are marginalized due to lack of awareness of current laws compounded by an inability to assert their rights in a historically male-dominated social structure. Development programs often set policies to be culturally sensitive but the lack of female empowerment in rural Tanzania is one cultural norm that we at Seed Change cannot and do not abide by.
Women are fundamental to smallholder food production the world over. Research (and our own experience) shows stark increases in livelihood benefits for children and families when assistance is given to women versus their male counterparts. Every dollar invested in women farmers is multiplied through their family (a much higher proportion of funds are spent on children, food, healthcare, and school fees). By working with women farmers we are ensuring more people benefit from our work – and your donation dollars! A report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization calculated “if women farmers had the same access to agricultural inputs and credit as men, there would be 100-150 million fewer people living in hunger.”
Seed Change’s work with female farmers aims to empower women and address the gender gap as opposed to maintaining a gender blind policy that deepens the divide through indifference to inherent power relations and the plight of women. We work to ensure that women have a strong voice and are able to express that voice. Our hope is that this empowerment will spread beyond our program throughout the community.