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  • Rashidah Namatovu

Women Small Scale Farmers Call for Their Increased Participation in Government Programs

During the International Day for Rural Women, celebrated on the 15th of October every year, ESAFF Uganda organized a community engagement with 30 women small-scale farmers in Kakindu Sub-county, Mityana district. This day aims to celebrate rural women's critical role and contribution to enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security, and eradicating rural poverty. This year's theme was "Rural Women rise and claim your basic rights to sustainable development," which places the empowerment of rural women at the heart of fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the meeting, women noted that despite their enormous contribution in growing crops, processing their harvest, preparing food, and distributing their products, as well as ensuring the well -being of their families and playing a catalytic role towards the achievement of transformational economic, environmental, and social changes for sustainable development, they often have limited access to food and a higher risk of malnutrition; access to resources such as land, seed, credit, and information is also aggravated by global food, economic crises, and climate change exacerbating food and nutrition insecurities. This disconnect from achieving their right to food is also attributed to structural barriers and discriminatory social norms constraining women's decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities.

Further, women also expressed of the increasing unlawful land evictions happening in the communities where many of them, especially widows, have been evicted of their land by relatives. "Our biggest issue is we lack land to practice farming as it has been taken away from us unlawfully with claims that women have no right to own land, especially after the loss of our husbands, which has limited our access to food security and increased poverty."

The implementation of government programs extended to their communities that usually have limited information on their expedition and the benefits. Among the issues was the ongoing Parish Development Model(PDM). Many of them were unaware of the implementation processes and the aim of the model itself instigating the lack of proper coordination and information sharing from their local leaders. They further mentioned the programs mainly benefit the men as they always find ways to get information while they are occupied in household daily duties and this has greatly limited participation in various meetings held at their sub counties.

Mrs. Nalweyiso Catherine, the District speaker for Mityana, who was the Guest of honor, applauded women small-scale farmers for their massive contribution to the community to sustain livelihoods. In her remarks, she highlighted to the women that government programs are entitled to each person in the community. Hence, there should not be any discrimination between men and women in terms of benefits. She further elaborated on the Parish Development Model(PDM) process, which many lacked the appropriate information. She tasked the district sub-county leaders to sensitize the communities about the model so they could benefit. She encouraged women to build momentum together, get empowered, and build support so that they can claim the rights they deserve and fully enjoy the benefits of development. Breaking legal and traditional barricades to women's full engagement in food systems is key to achieving better production, nutrition, environment, and life," she said.

As a call to action, women small-scale farmers proposed that government should develop a system that can track progress and ensure a functional feedback mechanism with proper coordination for the interventions under the PDM to succeed. Strengthen the capacities of local leaders such as LC1s and LC3s in understanding their mandate and address systematic bottlenecks to strengthen community resilience in critical areas such as land matters. Strengthen community women-led interventions such as the village saving banks and further build their capacities to utilize the resources in sustainable and fulfilling investment ventures that can improve their economic well-being and livelihoods as well as ensuring access to tangible information.

ESAFF Uganda committed to working closely with the women farmers in partnership with their local leaders to increase awareness of the PDM model and land issues, especially on women's property and inheritance rights and the process of land registration. Further to that is upscaling some methodologies, such as the Gender Action Learning (GALS) system, to ensure gender justice. ESAFF Uganda believes this will create more confidence and hope for women scale farmers to exercise their rights, securing food and nutrition security for their livelihoods.



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