ActionAid and partners have been promoting and developing Agroecology practices, based on the design and implementation of site-specific adaptation strategies aimed at increasing productivity, reducing vulnerabilities and increasing the resilience of smallholder production systems. However the burden of Unpaid Care Work for rural women farmers often means they have little time to learn about and to practice sustainable productivity; and so limits these women’s economic empowerment.
Even if women smallholder farmers are able to increase productivity, Access to Markets is often a major barrier to increasing their income. They receive unfair treatment from buyers and lack information regarding the current market situation, finance and other productive resources required to get their produce to market. Due to lack of voice at household or community level, or lack of time due to Unpaid Care Work, the women are unable to easily learn about or engage in these areas.
Voices from the community
Zareena, 48, from Pakistan is married and lives with ten family members including her five children of ages 10-18 years. They have two buffalos and one calf and she has the responsibility of bringing and preparing fodder for these three animals, which took her three hours a day. Fodder cutters have been distributed as part of the project and now it only takes her 20minutes a day
“Before having fodder cutter I was suffering; not have time to rest. I always do one house chore after the other; there is too much work to do at home and to care my livestock too”. Zareena’s husband stated that “Now I got realization that how much Zareena suffered while preparing fodder; Fodder cutter made our life easier”.
Jamila, 45, is member of Amrao Pari Women’ Group, Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh. She received training on vegetable gardening jointly by POWER project and the government’s Department of Agriculture Extension.
“Use of chemical fertiliser makes soil unfertile and sometime burns. We learnt not to use chemical fertiliser and pesticide. We use organic fertiliser like compost and organic pest management like pheromone trap, pouring ash, making organic pesticide etc. It is very difficult for me to manage extra time for gardening, producing vegetable after completing Unpaid Care Work.”
The Pwalugu Rice Processing Group is a group of widows formed by ActionAid Ghana and its partners, the Widows and Orphans Movement in 2012 in the Upper East region. Alice from the group explained what had happened: “we used to process our rice individually and as a result we had poor market for our products. A bag of processed rice could sometimes remain in the market for more than four weeks due to lack of market. This was because most of us lacked knowledge so we were trained us on how to process quality rice and relate to our customers. Despite all this progress, we faced some challenges; such as the unavailability of electricity at the Centre, making it impossible to process rice. We received guidance and strategised on how to engage with local authority. In December 2016, at a political rally I stood up and asked the politicians what help they had for poor widows in the community who are into rice processing. I also highlighted the progress made by the Group and enquired what the government was going to do to assist us in our goal for empowerment. After this, workers from the Volta River Authority (VRA) came to the community looking for me and engaged in a group discussions with me and some of the members of our group. They asked us to take them to our facility to do some measurements which we did. The next day, our facility was connected to electricity!”
Dipti Rani, Shumitra Rani and Probhati Ra (all members of Shondhamaloti Women group of Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh), in in their collective garden. “We are working in this vegetable garden in a collective way, though the land is Probhati’s. We work together in this garden. We do not take help from the male members of our family. We produce vegetable following CRSA techniques and other modern method, which we were not aware earlier. We grow celery, bitter gourd, cucumber, snake gourd, sponge gourd, cowpea in our garden. We go to sell our surplus vegetables in market. And we keep the money in our hand which we have earned. No one in the market cannot say a thing to us, because we stay together.”
Within the POWER project, CRSA is used as a tool to save time, to reduce Unpaid Care Work and to increase productivity. An example of this is providing cows to enable women smallholder farmers to access manure for soil fertility and milk to fight malnutrition for the whole family. Rosalie, Rwanda: “Getting fertilizers for my garden has been a big challenge. It required me to look for money to buy the manure at times, but now that I have my own cow, finding fertilisers is not a problem. My crops will now grow perfectly well.”
BOOSTING RESILIENCE: The relationship between climate change, agroecology and unpaid care work
This webinar was the fourth in the POWER project international webinar series. It explored the theme of enhancing resilient livelihoods for women farmers, by examining the effects of climate change, the benefits of agroecology and how these intersect with women’s unpaid care work. Read More…
CRSA and Unpaid Care Work webinar
This webinar was the second of the POWER project international webinar series. It looked at the links between Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture and Unpaid Care Work. Violence Against Women as a crosscutting issue was also considered. We heard staff and members of women’s groups talking of experiences from POWER project work in Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as an overview of CRSA and Women’s Rights and experiences of taking related issues to a policy level. We also had input from South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). There were over 50 participants from a variety of countries: from ActionAid, implementing partners and other organisations eg FAO, Oxfam and UN Women.
Women’s Economic Empowerment and Unpaid Care Work policy brief: online launch
This webinar was to launch the POWER project policy brief: ‘Incorporation of Women’s Economic Empowerment and Unpaid Care Work into regional policies (Africa)’.
This brief provides an analysis of current policies and practices across Africa that relate to rural women’s economic empowerment and, in particular, the inclusion of the issue of Unpaid Care Work. It considers the successes and the gaps and identifies opportunities for improvement.
About 30 participants attended the launch to hear the key recommendations and more detail of the advocacy work being done at local, national and regional level. Those attending also had the opportunity to input their own experiences and challenges. Participants also considered ways of working together to ensure better incorporation of issues around Unpaid Care Work into national and regional policies..
Cultivating rural women's economic empowerment (full report)
This report explores the specific interlinkages between women’s unpaid care work and agroecology in South Asia, drawing on case studies and experiences from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan
Cultivating rural women's economic empowerment (summary)
This is a 4 page summary of the full report of the same name. It was produced specifically for the launch of the report at the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62): a time when world leaders and civil society come together to consider the fundamental challenges and opportunities rural women and girls face.
Find out more about ActionAid’s approach to
Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture in general here