Women in agriculture and rural development play a key role in ensuring family nutrition and household food security. However, they face numerous constraints in accessing labour-saving technologies and financial services and lack opportunities to meet each other and interact with entrepreneurs and financiers. Studies have demonstrated that by removing gender-related barriers and empowering women in agriculture to fully engage in regional economies would accelerate growth, reduce poverty and improve food security.
Countless small-scale innovations are being implemented in the Eastern and Southern Africa region that need to be shared, incubated and taken to scale. These innovative women-led activities can inspire change and ultimately contribute to better agriculture productivity, enhanced livelihoods and improved 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.
The Sharefair 2014 will promote technologies and innovations that support rural 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 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.
The sharefair is being held from the 15-17th of October in Nairobi Kenya to coincide with the International Rural Women’s Day and World Food Day. A series of activities will be carried out that will lead up to the Sharefair event. For example, a Young Scientist Innovation Award will acknowledge promising students who are designing technologies that take into consideration the unique gender dimensions of rural agriculture, food security and nutrition.
This Sharefair comes at an opportune time when there is a broad consensus around the need for investing in women farmers to guarantee their equal 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, 2014 is the International Year of Family Farming, and the African Union’s Year of Agriculture and Food Security.
For more information and to download the sharefair brochure, go to www.empowerwomen.org/sharefair2014