Seeds of Change

Rural women’s fight for food and water security, and access to resources, are critical human rights issues. In 2011, Global Fund for Women embarked on an initiative to support women’s human rights, sustainable agriculture, and advocacy in Sub-Saharan Africa. The project, Rural Women Striding Forward, funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is based on the belief that women, who produce 80% of Africa’s food, should play a central role in deciding Africa’s agricultural future.

During the course of the initiative, which ran through August 2015, we supported 22 rural women’s groups working on sustainable agriculture and women’s rights in Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Uganda.

Strategies for success

  • We provided flexible funding to allow women-led organizations to run trainings and literacy and business classes, document women’s agricultural knowledge, and tell women about their rights.
  • We brought women together in each country to enable them to learn from one another – and to allow us to learn from them.
  • Consultants provided technical support in each country, with tools and information on sustainable agriculture practices.
  • Women were interviewed and surveyed to monitor their progress and the impact of our efforts.

Key outcomes

  • 5-50% increase in crop yields.
  • 30% increase in women’s income.
  • 25% of women added one or more income-generating activities.
  • The majority of households are now eating 3 meals per day.
  • Women enjoyed more respect and became decision-makers in their homes.
  • Women took on leadership roles in the community – for example, joining village councils.

Stories from the field

ARUWE beneficiary among her cropsAssociation Solidarité des Productrices Agro-pastorales de Ouahigouya in Burkina Faso provided agricultural training, seeds, and equipment to 430 women farmers, and trained 1,900 women on food processing and 60 on literacy. One of the group’s greatest successes was bringing together men and women to revitalize the Noogo ravine in an area suffering from desertification and loss of arable land. The newly graveled ravine captured much of the plentiful rainfall in 2012 and the land is increasingly enriched – leading to more land that could be used for year-round cultivation and greater agricultural productivity for women farmers.

Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment in Uganda supported 120 women farmers, organizing training on improved agricultural practices, post-harvest management, pest control, and organic methods. These farmers received improved seeds and plant cuttings, yielding more produce at the end of the harvest season. They were also given goats and pigs and trained to care for them. In addition, women farmers learned bookkeeping, savings strategies, and credit management, and received loans from the group’s loan fund, which they used to invest in their farms or to start small businesses.

Learn more about the impact of this initiative in our impact story and video.