Women seed change: Gender equality starts with recognizing women’s work

November 18, 2019

Did you know, in the Global South, a majority of women are farmers?

In the Global South, a majority of women are farmers. They earn income for their family and nourish their community. They care for the land and for seeds. And they work together to find innovative solutions to issues like climate change, violence against women and girls, and inequity.

In all these roles, women seed change. But they face barriers.

Women farmers have their own vision for a better future.

With the right kind of support, they can rise to the challenge and transform their community. Here are stories of women who are seeding change in their communities.

Jeidy Marilú Domínguez Morales | Farmer and entrepreneur, Honduras

Jeidy is a rural woman farming in the Global South, in Honduras. This image of her is her shoulders and face framed by tall stalks of corn around her. She look directly into the camera and has a determined look on her face.

In Honduras, it’s usually men who own land and manage crop sales. But Jeidy always dreamed of running her own farm. She loved growing food, and she wanted to earn her own income. But she wasn’t sure how.

A door opened when Jeidy took our training in sustainable coffee production. Today, at age 23, she owns her own land, where she grows vegetables, fruit and shade-grown coffee. She teamed up with other women farmers to sell her coffee directly to buyers, which gets her a better price. By breaking the mold and becoming self-reliant, Jeidy is also growing a world where more women like her can gain control over the resources they need to run their own farms.

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Sitan Diarra | Farmer and certified seed producer, Mali

Sitan Diarra is a rural woman farmer in the Global South in Mali. In this image, she stands in front of a building holding a bundle of sorghum in her arms. Her dress and head wrap are colourful and she smiles looking directly into the camera.

For many years, Sitan walked hours every day to the market in Bamako to sell agricultural goods. Her income was unreliable and the exhausting journey put her personal safety at risk. She wanted to work closer to home in Safo, but couldn’t find good paid employment. So she signed up for our vegetable seed production workshops.

Today, Sitan has her own farm, growing amaranth, eucalyptus and orange trees. Her training helped her meet the standards for certification as an onion seed producer, which means she can sell onion seeds at a premium. Sitan now has full control over her work conditions and her income. She’s also proud to be contributing to her region’s food security by making nutritious food and quality seeds available to more families around her.

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Irania Lira Benavidez | Farmer and policy-maker, Nicaragua

This image of two grown women and a young child standing in front of a brightly coloured wall. The two women are smiling and the child clutches one woman's leg with a small smile on his face.

At age 14, Irania joined a co-op for young farmers. There, she received training in collective decision-making and advocacy. She realized how much positive change she could create for her community if she got involved in local government, so with her peers’ encouragement, she decided to run for a seat on her region’s Council of Cooperatives. She won.

Irania is now a busy young mother with a farm of her own. Her passion for community leadership continues. Recently, she broke through another glass ceiling by winning a seat on the national Council of Cooperatives. Thanks to her early exposure to advocacy and governance training, Irania became a strong advocate for rural women and youth. And by embracing leadership roles in the political sphere as a young woman, she’s also become a source of inspiration for women and youth across Nicaragua.

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Herlinda Matias | Farmer and community trainer, Guatemala

Young woman with her hair up in a bow speaks and gestures toward someone off camera. She smiles.

Herlinda Matias is a young Indigenous Mayan woman from a farming family in the highlands of Guatemala. As a girl, she was expected to focus on her household and farm, and leave community participation to male relatives. But she worried about climate change and wanted to take action.

Our partner organization, ASOCUCH, gave Herlinda her chance by inviting her to join its ranks as a paid community facilitator. There, she trained in ways to support women’s involvement in community organizing, and learned about innovative frameworks to support farmer-led research. Today, Herlinda helps farmers of all genders work together to adapt to climate change. By facilitating collaboration between women and men as researchers, she’s also transforming her community’s understanding of gender roles.

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Change that starts in a woman’s field can transform her life.

We can show solidarity with women farmers around the world and support their success. Let’s work with them to create better opportunities for women and girls in rural communities.

With SeedChange, you can help women farmers reach the goals closest to their hearts: shaping a better future for themselves and their communities by growing good food, sustainably and as equals.