“However, experience has shown that the more women are integrated in the value chain, the more families can benefit from it,” he told the meeting.

Decision-making power is key

Issues addressed in the discussion included the marketing of produce. Tembo explained that COMPACI encouraged women to form groups or small producer organisations with a greater chance of asserting themselves on the market. Illiteracy at grass-root level, a further issue mentioned in the discussion, was already being addressed by COMPACI, who encouraged people to read and generally supported education measures. One of the chief obstacles mentioned was the dominance of men in decision-making. Most women did not own land. Frequently, they were excluded from selling and were unable to access benefits. Nevertheless, the importance of involving men in community development and encouraging their support in tackling gender issues was reiterated in the debate.

Author: Mike Gardner, journalist, Bonn

More information:  Gender, Agriculture & Assets Project