International Women's Day is March 8
This year's theme is #BreakTheBias to encourage us all to imagine a gender equal world. At Canadian Feed The Children, we have seen how women's livelihood programs can play a key role in breaking gender bias in agriculture.
Strong women's livelihoods help children thrive
Berochan, pictured above with her three children, is a farmer in Uganda who had this to say about her community's success last year:
"Last year, I achieved large yields for my farming activities. We were able to buy more land to expand, and now I feed my children on nutritious meals. The community is now food secure due to increased high yields and the economy is improved. People are saving in groups and a number of small businesses have been created."
Stories like this are great examples of how children, families and communities thrive when women build strong livelihoods. That’s why women’s livelihoods are an important focus of Canadian Feed The Children programming. Your support is crucial to their success.
What are women’s livelihood programs?
In our partner communities in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana and Uganda, women’s livelihood programs help women increase their economic power. Because each community has a different context, these programs take many forms.
- Village Savings and Loans Groups (VSLAs) often are the only form of banking available to rural women. Women build savings and get credit to cover expenses, giving them control over their finances and future.
- Agricultural or Gardening Training gives women the skills needed to grow thriving gardens or crops. It includes training on climate-resiliency, natural pest control, business planning and marketing.
- Livestock Programs supply training to raise healthy animals such as goats, chickens or bees, that form the backbone of a new family business. These programs sustainably source animals from local breeds that are adapted to their environment, and also include veterinary care and training.
- Income Generating Activities earn extra income based on existing farming businesses or through new ventures. For example, some women in Bolivia turn their garden produce into pastries to sell, while others learn skills like plumbing to earn more money.
- REFLECT Circles bring people together to discuss community priorities, and women have their say on food security, education, child protection, sanitation and more. This community-led approach is transforming lives with women taking the lead.
Why focus on women?
Livelihood programs do include men, but a large majority focus on women. This is because women have been historically excluded from access to resources. When women have economic power, especially in agriculture, they improve food security for all. According to the FAO:
“If women farmers had the same access as men, agricultural output would rise by up to 4 per cent. This could [mean] up to 150 million fewer hungry people.” [edited for length]
How does this help feed children?
Women who join these programs often share that they are now more able to feed their children well. There are three main reasons why.
- More income means more money for food
- More access to healthy foods through home and community gardening programs
- More community decision-making power for women means stronger food security for everyone, including children
Madam Seidu, a farmer in Ghana, recently started an okra business after years of inconsistent farming revenue. She says the business has had a significant impact on her grandchildren’s diet:
“It lifted some burden off their shoulders, especially money for my grandchildren to buy food in school. Sometimes when there is need, I use part of the profit from the new business to buy food or ingredients for the family.”
How do donations help?
When you donate to CFTC, you help support a variety of livelihood programs around the world.
- In Bolivia, your gifts help support programs like the Women's Vegetable Growers Association, which helps women develop produce businesses while improving their children’s nutrition at home.
- In Ghana and Ethiopia, women are joining business incubation hubs to start new agri-businesses, thanks to the support of the Slaight Family Foundation, Global Affairs Canada and many other committed supporters like you.
- When you choose a symbolic gift like a goat, bees, or chickens through the Best.Gift.Ever catalogue, your donation goes to help families grow strong farming businesses.
Thank you for supporting women’s livelihoods
No matter how you choose to support, you are partnering with women to improve food security and nutrition for children all around the world. Thank you to our donors and supporters for championing strong women’s livelihoods and helping children thrive!