Initiative and Ambassador focus on Empowerment on International Women's Day
Hamburg, March 8, 2019. In 2018, 160,000 female cotton farmers were part of the Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) initiative in sub-Saharan Africa. Women do most of the work on the fields and drive positive changes in entire village communities. They play a central role for a sustainable development and better living conditions. That is why CmiA is working with local partners and companies of its demand alliance to foster women's rights. Thereby, women can step into economic independence and gain a better position in society.
"In many countries, women are disadvantaged and depend on men as they often do not have a job or vocational training. For today's World Women's Day, I would like to draw attention to the women who impress me deeply - the female cotton farmers in Africa. They are power women and the true heroines for me today. As Ambassador for Cotton Made in Africa, I am very proud to support them in public," says Motsi Mabuse, TV star and prominent dancer with South African roots. "In addition to cultivating cotton according to the CmiA standard, CmiA also supports smallholder women organized in women's groups financially. This enables them to realize their business ideas and to be financially better off. In this way, we provide important impulses that women become role models for others. We look forward to working together with Motsi and our partners to enlarge this engagement so that women and their children, families and village communities can benefit in the long term," adds Tina Stridde, Managing Director of the Aid by Trade Foundation.
Cotton made in Africa sets up concrete measures for gender equality. CmiA certified cotton companies in Africa offer trainings how to grow sustainable cotton that are specifically geared to the needs of female participants. Additionally, women are trained to become group heads, so-called "lead farmers". This strengthens their role within the training groups as well as in the community. In the cotton companies, employees receive seminars on gender equality and women's representatives are appointed as permanent contact persons for female farmers.
Promote the development opportunities for women
With a cooperation program for local village communities, CmiA promotes the association of smallholder women. They get easier loans for example. "As a result of the special support measures, women are also increasingly involved in community projects and have a stronger say in decision-making," explains Josia Coulibaly, CR&S-Manager at SECO, a CmiA-certified cotton company in Côte d'Ivoire. "That makes them to important role models for other women." Women who are organized in groups work together to grow cotton and other crops. They reinvest the profits made as a group to help other villagers such as elderly or orphans.
Since 2015, CmiA has supported twenty different women's groups through the Community Cooperation Program. Of these, a total of 597 women benefited directly. Among the projects that have been initiated by the women were chicken, bee or goat breeding, tailoring, vegetable gardens or the construction of a grocery store. The projects help women improve their income and stabilize the food security of their families. Alice Chalimbwa from Nampundwe in Zambia is one of them. The grant allows her and her husband to go back to school and finish their secondary education.
Read more about the female cotton farmers in our Farmer Stories in section 'Wear a smile with...' here.