Empower the women – feed Africa ; Graca Machel says
By Ruth Aine Tindyebwa
What do you need to make sure that the African woman has what she needs to do the farming?
How many engineers do we need?
The women are the majority farmers. How much will it cost?
These were the questions very heartily asked by Ms Graca Machel as she talked to the East and Southern University Vice Chancellors, Ministers of Agriculture and graduate students gathered in Maputo this week. Also in the audience were lecturers from universities that are teaching Agricultural disciplines. As she talked I could only think: why are we not moving from where we are at to bigger heights and development in agriculture? Food security continues to be a huge issue in this time and age for Africa. A conversation that we are not supposed to be having. But now that we are having it; hopefully we acknowledge what has to be done and the fact little is being done. And this is where I think that our governments need to take initiative and help the projects that are taking place already in the communities to be then replicated elsewhere.
Research tells us that over 40% of Africa’s children are stunted. This means that even though they are given the best of life after they are 5 years of age, they still are not able to develop to their full capacity. This is worrying. In about 10-20 years time we will have a huge army of youth who cannot be helped. They may have gone through school, but will not be able to develop past a certain stage. This is not just physical development but also intellectual which is in my opinion a bigger blow to society and the Africa transformation story.
Ms. Graca Machel said something that struck home. ” We get used to talking about these numbers , but we fail to put a face to these numbers. When you go back home, look at your children and wife. Remember that they are part of the numbers.” As policy and development workers we sometimes forget to put a picture to these numbers. So the picture/ image fails to hit home. We are not aloof these numbers, they are a part of us. And once that registers with us, then we shall be able to realize the need to ACT.
Empowerment of women is paramount. They are who feed Africa. Their naturing spirit is what holds us all together. Which is why support to them is very important. And so it come as no surprise that Graca Machel has purposed to work with women to equip them in financial matters. So that they can go beyond handling matters for the home to creating stable financial institutions. If the African woman is equipped more, she will feed Africa. She will do more than take care of her home, she will take care of the community and the nation. Women are the custodians of food and livelihood in Africa.
Graca Machel’s final words were : ” Your neighbors granary cannot feed you”. But we keep giving our neighbors the pleasure of feeding us. No wonder we have stunted and hungry children on the continent.