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EWA’s 7th Breakfast Meeting Sought Scale-Up of Empowering African Women in Agriculture

The Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA) initiative recently held its 7th High-Level Breakfast Meeting on Empowering Women in Agriculture to showcase African women’s advancement in agriculture, which centered around the themes of scaling up empowerment, highlighting achievements, and cultivating partnerships.

A group photo of stakeholders at the 7th Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA) held on the sidelines of the 37th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly

The breakfast meeting, which had in attendance the crème de la crème of African women leaders, took place on the sidelines of the recently held 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union held February 17 – 18 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

EWA is a flagship project of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), one of the structures created to strengthen women’s participation in peace and security processes, by the Office of the AU’s Special Envoy (OSE) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), to empower African women smallholder farmers towards improving the continent’s overall food security. 

In her address, Ms Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, emphasized the critical importance of empowering rural women noting that it transcends being a “mere necessity; it is a fundamental imperative for the future of our continent. Empowering rural women is not only a matter of justice, equality, and human rights but also a cornerstone for constructing a smart economy and promoting sustainable development across all sectors.”

The Ethiopian president said empowering rural women unlocks the full potential of nations and fosters an environment conducive to innovation as well as enhancing productivity and cultivating prosperity, which benefits individuals and communities alike. “By investing in the empowerment of rural women, we lay the groundwork for inclusive growth and equitable progress that propels our continent forward into a brighter, more prosperous future.”

In her remarks, Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia and EWA Champion, emphasized the paramount importance of guaranteeing food security as a fundamental prerequisite of sustainable development and underscored the close relationship between food security and gender equity, noting that women predominantly serve as the backbone of small-scale agricultural endeavors, engaging in both subsistence farming and cash crop cultivation.

In her own remarks, Bineta Diop, AU Commission’s Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, emphasized the significance of tangible outcomes achieved in mechanizing agricultural processes through the concerted commitments of all stakeholders, drawing attention to EWA’s successful collaboration with the OCP Foundation in Malawi. She described the achievements in mechanization and capacity building as exemplars of what can be accomplished through collaborative efforts.

“In Malawi, the partnership with the OCP Foundation has led to significant strides in mechanizing agricultural processes, thereby enhancing efficiency and productivity in the sector. Additionally, capacity-building initiatives have empowered local communities with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in modern agricultural practices. I wish to stress the importance of replicating such successful models across other regions and sectors to drive sustainable development and transformative change on a broader scale.”

The EWA breakfast meeting brought together a wide-range of stakeholders, namely rural women from Senegal, Malawi and Tanzania, civil society actors, private sector leaders as well as representatives of UN, AU, international NGOs and foundations. It was a platform for exchange of valuable insights and practical strategies for scaling up commitments towards empowering African women in agriculture.

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