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CTA. 2005. Overcoming disadvantages. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57271
Jane Chepchirchir, Gender Research and Networking Officer for the Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers, talks about the many challenges facing women farmers, and how her organisation is addressing them.
Overcoming disadvantages Cue: When you think of a farmer, do you think of a man or a woman? While many of us automatically think of a man, in fact the majority of farmers, in the developing world at least, are women, and most of the food produced in developing countries is grown by women. Yet despite having such an important role in agriculture, women also face many disadvantages compared to men, which limit their farming activities, and their production of food and other crops. As a Gender Research and Networking Officer for the Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers, Jane Chepchirchir is strongly committed to uplifting and empowering women farmers. She spoke recently to Eric Kadenge, who began by asking whether she felt that women farmers in Kenya were able to produce to their maximum capacity. IN: ?No, we can?t say that because women ? OUT: ? to take care of our families.? DUR?N 4?37? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Jane Chepchirchir of the Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers was talking to Eric Kadenge. Transcript Chepchirchir No, we can?t say that because women have some limitations that we all know. For example, their reproductive tasks. That is taking care of the families and children, that takes much of their time. Secondly they are limited in their access and control of these resources especially that deal with agriculture like land, which is the major hitch here. Kadenge And other than their reproductive duties and resources, any other issues that limit their capacity to produce? Chepchirchir Yes we have their low literacy levels, their low exposure, their discrimination - even where they appear they are not given the chance to represent their issues. And also there was the issue of HIV which also has taken much of their capability, in taking care of the sick and the affected. Kadenge As an officer that is in charge then of dealing with some of these gender issues, how are you addressing the women?s capacity to produce in terms of agriculture? Chepchirchir The biggest thing that we think will work for them is to mainstream gender issues in every development project especially in this case agriculture. Here we are talking about both men and women because if men are not involved as well, then they will be ignorant and they will work against the attempts to bring on board the women. So mainstreaming is key. The other thing is the involvement and proper representation of these women. Their involvement is that wherever there are issues in agriculture, the women should be involved and they should be well represented. Kadenge And in what ways is this being done? How are you making sure that they are actually represented? Chepchirchir In KENFAP, for example, we have produced a manual to deal with gender issues in this mainstreaming and so at the moment what I am doing is I am working on projects that will target women. This is a membership organization so all the women who are our members will be targeted ? in every project; women?s issues will be dealt with. Kadenge Other than representation, what other issues that women face are you also addressing? Chepchirchir We are also addressing the issue of information and we feel that women should have networks through which information can be passed to them. We have the issue of credit and inputs. Women have no tangible assets because if they are married then everything is in the man?s name so they cannot borrow any credit. So we also want them ? and I think these are things that are happening right now in the policies and the laws, amendments and so on? where the laws may be there, but again the enforcement and also the customs that are actually squeezing. Even when laws are there then the customs go against it. So again it?s trying to even improve on the lot of customs. And I think we are happy about some credit institutions that have come up to just target the women. For example we have the Kenya Women Finance Trust. Such are the things. Kadenge Traditionally women have mainly been involved in subsistence farming. Are you doing anything to ensure that they also get involved in cash crop farming which is very lucrative especially here in Kenya? Chepchirchir The biggest hitch again about trying to commercialize agriculture is we know mostly that the women tend to take the labour provision but when it comes to money then it becomes the man?s job. But we want both on board so that they understand that if the woman has contributed at least the labour then she also has a stake. Kadenge Is there any other way in which you are trying to address this issue that you would like to point out? Chepchirchir There is this one issue about land ? the access to land and resources. We really think that this could be improved by bringing women especially to forums especially such as policy formulation. Again women are left out in these issues possibly because they think they don?t belong because it is mainly a man-dominated area. But if women want to be involved then we would also get their issues brought out more clearly than when they are represented by men. And the other issue I wanted to encourage the women is especially on nutrition, that if we do not feed ourselves so that we are able to feed our families then our families will also be malnourished. So let us begin with ourselves so that we are able to take care of our families. End of track.