Agricultural development has been adopted as a strategy to achieve poverty reduction, the first of the millennium development goals (MDG). Gender inequalities continue to contribute towards the decline of agriculture in most parts of Malawi. Girls should be active participants in agricultural development to enhance their own capacities and overcome their challenges. In Madisi, where society sustain rigid male supremacy, girl’s work and economic contributions tend to be viewed as nonessential. However, with an increase in female child headed households who derive their livelihood from agriculture, challenges the notion that agricultural production is a male occupation. To address these issues, ZOE orphan empowerment program in Madisi, Malawi is empowering girls to access and control over factors of agricultural production to which they are the major stakeholder.
“The boys in our working group used to intimidate me that I can not make it, that I can not farm. Today, I am happy that I have made it and my garden looks much better than the boys’. I would like to encourage my fellow girls that everything is possible. Before I joined ZOE I used to beg to eat, but that will not be the case this year. I am anticipating bumper harvest” explained Theresa Botomani.
If girls have the same access to resources as boys, they could increase farm yields. When girls are empowered economically and socially − they become leaders and agents of change for economic growth, social progress and sustainable development.
“I used to farm without fertilizer, but not anymore. Through ZOE, I managed to get fertilizer, my maize is strong and green as you can see it. I will have a bumper harvest this year. I will not beg any more, myself and my siblings will now manage 3 meals a day. Thank you ZOE” Titha said.
These girls are women of tomorrow. Women are central to the development of rural areas and to national economies. Empowering girls is empowering women. When women are empowered can claim their rights, have access to leadership, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations.
By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo