Gender is a cross-cutting issue addressing critical pathways to increasing agricultural production and improving overall food security.This year, International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th with the theme of pledge for parity.In Tanzania, the agriculture sector employs 77% of people nationwide while Tanzanian women provide 80% of the labor.Empowering women and youth in agriculture is part of the USAID Country Development Cooperation Strategy for Tanzania.Supporting women in pursuing advanced degrees in agriculture, performing research addressing women’s access to land and inputs, and facilitating gender mainstreaming institutional activities are three key areas through which iAGRI supports women’s empowerment in agriculture.
Over 50% of the graduate students trained by iAGRI are female. By comparison, only 20% of faculty and only 30% of students are female at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). Across Tanzania, women make up 50% of the population; however, salaries are 63% lower than their male counterparts on average. According to IFPRI’s Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI), nationwide the share of female researchers is 25%.
Increasing the quality of education and number of female students pursuing the agricultural sciences is one of the key mandates of iAGRI. Through iAGRI support, students such as Lilian Mpinga, now a Program Coordinator at iAGRI, and Theresia Jumbe, a Lecturer at SUA have completed postgraduate degrees in horticulture and nutrition respectively, forming a new cadre of emerging female scientists trained in disciplines critical to improving food security in Tanzania.
UN Women Africa along with the World Bank Group, UNEP and UNDP recently published a study on The Cost of the Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. According to the study, closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity could potential lift as many as 80,000 people out of poverty in Tanzania. As part of iAGRI’s approach to supporting students pursuing research on cross-cutting issues addressing gender in agriculture, the following are examples of students who have focused their research topics on women farmers:
- Furaha Guivaha, Cohort III, completed an MSc in Agricultural Extension at Iowa State with research on Assessment ofFactors that Impact Agricultural Extension Training Programs for Smallholder Women Farmers Related to Household Food Security in Tanzania
- Mariam Marianda, Cohort II, completed an MSc at University of Florida in Human Nutrition focusing on An Educational Intervention To Increase Iron And Folate Intakes From Supplements And Dietary Sources Among Women Of Child Bearing Age From Mvomero District Of Morogoro, Tanzania.
- Elizabeth Isaya, Cohort II, completed an MSc in Agricultural Communications at Ohio State University (OSU) finishing with a thesis on Sources of Agricultural Information for Women Farmers in Hai and Kilosa Districts.
Policies at Sokoine
While investing in individual capacities is a crucial element in how iAGRI supports work to improve food security, institutions are also a component of human and institutional capacity development. Although challenging, developing improving institutions is necessary to ensure that individuals are able to thrive and utilize their newly developed skills. Tanzania is ranked 47 out of 86 in terms of the Social Institutions and Gender Index, a cross-country measure of discrimination against women in social institutions that takes into account formal and informal laws, social norms, and practices across 160 countries. In light of these needs, part of iAGRI’s activities are dedicated to institutional gender mainstreaming actions. These initiatives are led by Carolyne Nombo, iAGRI Gender Specialist and include:
- Production of sex and gender disaggregated data for SUA.
- Awareness sessions for both academic and administrative staff members on gender issues in institutions of higher education.
- Mainstreaming gender in training programs and research.
- Enhance female academic and leadership through formal mentoring programme.
- Production of informational leaflets and documents on sexual harassment for staff.
- Activities to increase men’s involvement on gender mainstreaming at SUA.
Through these initiatives, iAGRI aims to improve gender-balanced leadership at SUA and to develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Supporting women with advanced degrees in the agricultural sciences with mentoring and leadership training, and encouraging institutional strengthening in the areas of gender mainstreaming and monitoring are three ways iAGRI is working to support women in agriculture. Through these efforts, iAGRI works to promote inclusive growth and the empowerment of women in the agricultural sciences.