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Hundreds Attend Women In Agrifood Systems Gathering 

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Ritah Mukasa

The national women gathering has brought together over 500 people from different walks of life. They engaged in discussions on critical issues affecting women in agrifood systems. 

The participants included women in agribusiness, representatives from government ministries and departments, agencies, the private sector, financial institutions, academia, Non-Governmental Organizations and civil society organizations.

The event happened last Friday, April 12, at Hotel Africana under the theme of women and girls leading against hunger and malnutrition. 

The key policymakers shared opportunities available for women in agrifood systems.

Women exhibited and sold their produce. Photos by Ritah Mukasa

The gathering was organised by Food Rights Alliance (FRA) in partnership with Stand for her land, World Vision and SNV. Others are SEATINI, Landnet, Katosi Women Development Trust (KWDT), Caritas Uganda, ActionAid and Uganda Community Based Association for Women and Children’s Welfare (UCOBAC). 

The women also exhibited and sold their products.

The event was officiated by Hon. Linda Auma, woman member of parliament for Lira district and Vice Chairperson of Uganda Women’s Council. 

She recognised the role of women in the production and supply value chain, saying these roles date back to the Garden of Eden in the Bible where Eve fed Adam. 

However, she says despite their efforts, women are still grappling with cultural injustices from their partners and communities who see them as a threat. This has led to a surge in domestic violence cases.

On the other hand, Agnes Kirabo, FRA Executive Director, said the gathering followed three regional dialogues that targeted over 600 women groups; 200 per dialogue.

Quoting statistics from IGAD, 2022 and the Uganda Demographic Health Survey (UDHS) 2022, Kirabo noted that women are the backbone of Uganda’s agrifood system, providing over 70% of the labour force in the agricultural sector.

On a sad note, despite their enormous contribution, women remain the primary victims of hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition in Uganda. They are also not appreciated and when it comes to proceeds, very little goes to them.

This partly explains the UDHS report that shows that 15.4% of women of reproductive age are underweight, 23.6% are overweight or obese, and 53% suffer from anaemia.

For all the challenges women in the agrifood system go through, Kirabo wondered how those women still manage to feed billions of people across the world. 

She called upon all stakeholders to ensure that women benefit from meaningful participation and engagement in decision-making spaces across the nutrition-gender nexus. 

She was quick to add that the gathering offers a strategic platform for women and girls to engage and co-create. It also addresses challenges and barriers hindering their inclusion, meaningful participation, leadership, and investment in the agri-food system.

“Women and girls are key to addressing hunger and building resilient food systems,” she stressed. 

Meanwhile, women in fishing, coffee production and dairy farming shared horrifying experiences of what they go through to earn a living. 

Thereafter, different stakeholders shared opportunities women can leverage to grow. For example, Benard Mujuni- Commissioner for equity and rights at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development who represented Minister Betty Among said, the ministry has several projects worth billions targeting women. 

He tasked them to form groups, legalize their businesses and embrace the projects mostly those in agriculture and value addition, food security plus entrepreneurship.  

Other speakers included; Margaret Nakato executive director of KWDT, and Her Excellency Rhoda Peace Tumusiime former commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the African Union Commission among others.

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