The provision of food has long been a reserve for women, in Africa, and this has trascended generations. It is considered one of the major gender roles for women. The failure to provide food for the family by a woman in a home is enough to instigate violence.It is so much of an expectation for a woman that whether the source of the food is known or unknown, a woman has to ensure that the family is fed.
Beyond putting food on the plate, women contribute 76 per cent of labour in agriculture. They, however, are the least earners as majority are trapped at the lower level of the food value chain. The unequal distribution of power, resources, decision making and limited acess to affordable credit facilities to women is reflected in the food system value chain as well. Even with such realities, for those who try to speak about their discomfort, their attempt are met with resistance and silenced only for them to retreat to their discomforting zones.
The emergence of both rural and urban activists has been in response to the relentless prejudice that women face at all fonts including those evident in the food system – food processing factories/industries and markets where women derive their livelihood. Activists, however, continue to be seen as those against the leaders. It is these perpetual deficits in the “will” and actions that continue to perpetuate gender inequalities amidst enabling policy and legal frameworks. What is women empowerment and tranformation without voice, decision making, resources and power? I am afraid to say, it is meaningless.
The theme of this year’s commemoration of international women’s day could not have come at a better time. Increasingingly activists are involuntarlily compelled to give up what they stand and fight for!
As we commemorate this day, as a stakeholder, I celebrate all women activists who have been silenced, the women who seek to see the lives of women transformed for the better, those who strive against all odds to provide for themselves and their families, they are the unsung heroes.