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‘Investing In Women Unlocks Their Potential To Transform Food Systems’

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Ritah Mukasa

The Agrifood system is dominated by women and girls across the country.

Margaret Nakato, the executive director at Katosi Women Development Trust (KWDT) says, women face a can of challenges in the food production and supply value chain, but they demonstrate resilience at all times.

The key obstacles include; climate change, limited access to economic empowerment opportunities and a heavy burden of unpaid work that hinders full and equal employment. 

They also face discriminatory social norms and customary laws, gender-based constraints, restricted access to land, inputs, services, finance, and digital technology.

Women need support to produce more food. Photos by Ritah Mukasa

However, despite the insurmountable challenges, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime says, there are opportunities for achieving food security through investment in women across the value chains. 

Tumusiime is the former commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the African Union Commission.

She says, investing in women unlocks their potential to transform food systems. This in the end creates a world where everyone has access to safe, high quality and healthy diets hence eradicating hunger and malnutrition.

She made these remarks while speaking at the national gathering for women in agrifood systems last Friday April 12. 

The event 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.

Tumisiime recognized women such as Julian Omalla and Judith Wucakowun who have built thriving food businesses, and become role models.

Women need land rights

Providing women with secure land rights and access to resources will also go a long way in empowering them, according to Tumusiime.

In addition, offer them training and education programs on agricultural techniques. Also, increase access to credit and financial services, promote gender equality and empower women to participate in decision-making. 

Women-led agribusinesses should be supported as well.

Relatedly, Nakato encourages women to leverage organisational efforts and demand for equitable recognition and fair allocation of resources within the system.

Embrace available opportunities

The good news is that change is already underway. 

Tumusiime says several programs by the government and civil society in Uganda address various aspects of women’s economic empowerment focusing on financial inclusion, property and assets, and vocational and life skills acquisition. 

True to that, Benard Mujuni, the Commissioner for Equity and Rights at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development says 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.  

Meanwhile, Tumusiime implores government, private sector, and development partners to invest more in women-led solutions. 

“Support their innovations. Amplify their voices in decision-making spaces. Educate young girls. Give women access to resources,” she says adding; “Together, we can dismantle systemic barriers and build a truly inclusive food system.”

She adds that Uganda is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on food security and gender equality.

LEAD PHOTO CAPTION: Rhoda Tumisiime, the former commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the African Union Commission speaking at the women gathering.

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