When women are economically and socially empowered, they become a powerful force for change. In rural areas women are more likely to depend on farming for a livelihood, unfortunately they rarely have access to the resources that would make their work more productive and ease their heavy workload. As a result, it is not just women who are held back, but also their families, their communities and local economies.
I met this relatively old mama (a Swahili word to mean woman) in Rabai Kilifi County walking with a load on her head despite the scotching sun, to sell her mihongo (a swahili word meaning Cassava). She had walked several kilometers with just one desire, to meet someone to buy the Cassava so that she could buy food for the family and pay school fees for her grand children. After a long day she is also supposed to go back till the land, fetch firewood and cook. This is something she does on a daily basis for her and her family to survive. Looking at her you would agree with me that, the Labor intensive and time-consuming activities further hinder women’s ability to improve their income-earning potential.
What I loved about her is, she loves what she does and does it with a big smile, the same reason why she goes back to the land to till and harvest more. Unfortunately technology has not reached her, while we enjoy every bit of globalization and technology this woman representing many others in rural areas, still work the old tradition way, with few chances of succeeding. Women play a key role in agriculture and they need support to adapt to the new technologies and to seize emerging opportunities. They are not looking for ways to change what they have done for years but they want partnerships, systems and policies that can favor them to continue doing what they love doing (farming) more efficiently with greater results.
After a good chat I decided to buy the Cassava from her, am shocked she is selling at a throw away price. She sold me 5 large Cassavas at $0.5.A quick maths will show you that by the time she finishes selling everything she is carrying on the basket, she will be having close to $4.If you divide that with her 6 family members, it will translate to $0.6 per day per person. You can almost confirm the UN report http://bit.ly/2vg2SSN that more than 700 million people, or 10% of the world population, still live in extreme poverty surviving on less than US$1.90 a day and majority are living in Sub Saharan Africa.
Assuming there was a value addition in the same Cassava she was carrying, considering that it is a multipurpose crop, drought resistant, with products ranging from coarse flour to high-tech starch gels, the price will go up from $4 to approximately $20, which will give her an opportunity not only to feed her family but also to save to take little children to school, help her big daughters further their education to become more productive in the community and have better living condition that she had.