Rural women play a key role in ensuring family nutrition and household food security. However, for both their agricultural and domestic work they face numerous constraints in accessing productive resources, labour-saving technologies and financial services and they often have limited opportunities to meet each other and interact with entrepreneurs and financiers. Studies have demonstrated that measures to remove gender-related barriers and empower women have accelerated their engagement in agriculture, promoting growth in their community, national and regional economies, reducing poverty and improving food security.
Countless small-scale innovations are being implemented in the Eastern and Southern Africa region that deserve sharing, incubating and taking to scale. These innovative women-led activities can inspire change and ultimately contribute to raising agricultural productivity, enhancing livelihoods and improving household nutrition.
The Sharefair 2014 on “Rural women’s technologies to improve food security, nutrition and productive family farming” is a collaborative effort between the UN Women Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa, FAO, IFAD, WFP, IIRR, and the UN Women’s Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment. Several other partners, including members of the Regional Network on Gender and Rural Livelihoods for Eastern and Southern Africa, will also be actively participating.
A series of activities will be carried out in the weeks leading up to the Sharefair event in October 2014. For example, a Young Scientist Innovation Award will celebrate promising students who are designing technologies that address the unique gender dimensions of rural agriculture, food security and nutrition. The Sharefair 2014 will promote technologies and innovations that support women smallholder farmers. Its substantive South-South component will bring together rural women innovators from around the region, and offer a platform for policymakers, academics, food producers, investors, technology innovators, consumers and others to interact with these women. The objective is to launch an inspiring fair for sharing and showcasing agricultural production and value addition innovations.
This Sharefair comes at an opportune time when there is a broad consensus around the need for investing in women farmers to guarantee their equitable access to productive resources, technical knowledge and viable markets. This consensus will help boost attention to women as drivers of rural progress and feed into the 2015 reviews of the implementation of the MDGs and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as well as the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, the Sharefair will contribute to the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, and the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security.