Editor's Comment

Support women

WOMEN play a critical role in the development of any economy worldwide. Their contribution to poverty eradication and towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals is significant.
As they form the backbone of any economy, it is imperative that women are supported in one way or the other.
Many a times, women have been side-lined despite the contribution they make towards the development of any nation.
This is not because they are not able but because they usually find themselves in disadvantaged positions while placing men at an advantage and as a result, men are seen as the main drivers of any economy.
For instance, women make a significant contribution to food production through agricultural activities in developing countries and play an important role in environmental sustainability.  Their contribution to poverty eradication cannot be over-emphasised.
Today, as nations struggle with food security, it is time, more so than ever, women were empowered.
In some parts of the world, women represent 70 percent of the agricultural workforce, comprising 43 percent of agricultural workers worldwide. Yet despite their heavy workload and productivity, they continue to face discrimination, which is not only a lack of justice but holds back gains in vital areas.
If women farmers had equal access to resources and opportunities, they would drive greater progress in ending hunger, boosting food security, and improving health and education.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation points out that if women farmers were given the same access to resources such as seeds, credit and fertiliser, the results could be significant.
Women’s agricultural yields could increase by 20 to 30 percent, raising agricultural production in developing countries by up to four percent. It would also mean 100 million to 150 million fewer people going hungry.
More needs to be done to harness the contribution of women to development.  Currently, there is a gender gap in agriculture, linked to women’s weaker access to land rights, modern technologies and financing.  If women farmers had stronger legal rights and greater business opportunities, millions of people would be better fed.
It is for this reason that Government should be commended for its intentions to soon launch a women’s financial bank that will provide flexible services to female entrepreneurs.
This initiative is most welcome as the women’s bank will bring about financial inclusion as most banks do not have appropriate incentives for women.
Government’s announcement of its plans through its Minister of Gender and Child Development Inonge Wina will see women access flexible services for female entrepreneurs.
Women have been challenged to reaffirm their commitment towards enhancing their businesses due to the conducive environment Government is providing.
Government has also pledged to continue institutionalising provincial and national expos for women entrepreneurs, which women should take advantage of.
Ensuring women’s access to land and other resources requires changes in laws and institutions to end discrimination, and supportive public policies to promote equality. It also requires the engagement of community organisations and the participation of women in decision-making.
Prioritising women is not a choice. It is a necessity.

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