The USAID Feed the Future (FTF) initiative has celebrated the efforts and contributions of rural women to community and national development in diverse ways, despite the myriad of challenges.
The acknowledgement was done through a series of activities by the FTF implementing partners (IPs), in partnership with the Women in Agriculture (WIAD) unit of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), to mark the International Day of Rural Women (IDRW).
The celebration was marked on the theme: “Celebrating Rural Women’s Contribution to Ghana’s Economic Progress through Agriculture,” with media discussions, policy dialogue, and a durbar.
Some women, who shared their stories during a durbar at Naro, a community in the Nadowli-Kaleo District, said they were supporting their husbands to cater for the educational, health, and nutritional needs of their children.
Madam Mamuna Abdul-Rahaman, a member of the Langzelanoba Shea Butter Processing Group at Naro, said the business had helped them purchase furniture for community events such as durbars.
She said due to the social benefits, the women had received support from some men to help them improve their businesses so they could give back to the community.
“We are about 120 in the group; we can produce about four tones in a year, and it is helping us to support our children in schools.
Our husbands support us in producing the shea butter because they know that it benefits all of us,” Madam Abdul-Rahaman explained.
She said a kilogram of shea butter was sold at GHȻ20.00 translating to about GHȻ80,000.00 annually in proceeds for the group.
Madam Anaang Anabanye from the Domowa community in the Wa West District said they used to depend on charcoal burning to earn a living.
She, however, said they had realised its negative impact on the environment and had ventured into shea nut harvesting as a major economic venture.
Mr Eric Maasole, the Regional Manager of Policy LINK Sub-National Office, in charge of Northern Ghana, observed that despite the important contribution of rural women to agricultural development, they were faced with many challenges including unequal access to fertile lands.
He said Policy LINK was working with stakeholders to amplify the voices of vulnerable groups, including rural women, Persons with Disabilities, and the youth at the sub-national level.
Madam Katherine Tieyirr Lankono, the Nadowli-Kaleo District Chief Executive, eulogised rural women for their daily toil in the fields to ensure access to nutritious and safe food for the household.
“Their knowledge, resilience, and hard work are instrumental in creating the abundant and diverse food supply we all rely on,” she said.
Madam Lankono described rural women as agents of change and progress and when given the opportunity, they could be advocates for sustainable agricultural practices, environmental conservation, and community development.
Mr Emmanuel Sasu Yeboah, the Upper West Regional Director of Agriculture, observed that globally, agriculture depended on the daily work of rural women.
“They do all the menial jobs on the farm and play key roles, from input sourcing, production, harvesting, processing, packaging and preservation, and marketing of food, to feed their families, communities, and the world as a whole,” he said.
The FTF IPs including Policy LINK, Mobilising Finance in Agriculture, Market Systems Resilience, and Resilience in Northern Ghana (RING) II, facilitated the durbar in partnership with the WIAD.
Groups of over 300 rural women in agriculture, community leaders, government officials, and agricultural sector stakeholders from the FTF Zone of Influence (ZOI) in 17 districts in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West, and North East Regions participated in the celebration.
The IDRW was instituted by the United Nations in 2008 to be commemorated annually on 15th October to recognise the significant contributions of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, ensuring food security, and eradicating rural poverty.
It was to throw a spotlight on the inspiring stories of rural women overcoming challenges and contributing substantially to agricultural development.