The world celebrated International Women’s day whose theme was ‘Gender equality for a sustainable tomorrow.’ Gender equity is a means through which gender equality can be achieved to foster sustainable development. Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) in Zambia a partner organisation of the SD=HS programme has had a focus on gender to ensure that the decision-making lies in hands of both men and women thus ensuring that both men and women have equal opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic retrogressed these efforts as there was limited contact with the target communities during some periods of project implementation.
The Gender Journey Module (GJM), aimed at understanding the gender context and developing gender action plans in relation to the identified gender challenges has been rolled out in four farmer field schools (FFS) in the districts of Chirundu and Chikankata in Zambia.
Looking from the outside, one would have thought that there was significant progress towards achieving gender equality in these communities, yet the social, structural and cultural norms are still a block towards this progress. Here are some of the experiences that participant shared during the GJM sessions.
‘My name is Finet Ngandu from Hamuwele FFS. I am a woman youth seed producer and I am very happy to be a youth under the seed production pillar. As a young woman, I do not own land, yet seed production offers me means in which I can earn an income within the community rather than idling. Children who are women within the family can not inherit land. Most land is inherited by children who are men, thus the land for many generations has been controlled by men.’
‘The topic around gender is very important,’ said Mr Dimbangandu who is the facilitator of Hamuwele FFS. ‘The women are very excited about the seed production activities but because they do not own land it becomes very difficult for them to expand the size of land that they are cultivating for this purpose. Next season they will want to expand the area under cultivation but they will need to go back to their husbands to ask for permission to increase the area they can cultivate to produce seed. This creates a challenge to those whose husbands may not agree to give more land,’ he said.
Access to land is one of the main challenges that women continue to face, hindering food security, access to seed and income. In many communities’ land is a major resource that one must possess in order to sustain themselves in terms of food and nutrition security. During GJM sessions, it was however clear that in the target communities’ women do not own land nor do they inherit it yet they provide and contribute significant labour in the agriculture production at household and national level.
Despite these challenges attributed to gender inequality in the form of limited access to land by women, we remain very hopeful that we can achieve our gender goals if we continue to put the women and girls at the centre of our planning at community level, programme level and national level. We must therefore continue building the capacity of communities for them to understand why it is important to ensure that gender challenges are addressed in order to achieve the gender goals.