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FAO Regional Office for Africa

Indigenous women campaign causing a change in Africa

Empowering indigenous women in agriculture

Photo: ©FAO/Alizeta Tapsoba

29 October 2018, Accra — Historically, indigenous women have contributed largely to the agricultural sector. They are known to be the ‘Protectors of the Land,’ and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recognizes the critical role of the indigenous women towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda and the Zero Hunger goal.

There are 5,000 indigenous groups in the world with almost 30 of them coming from Africa. With globalization increasing every day, these groups are often discriminated. In a radio interview with an indigenous woman from Mbororo in Cameroon, she called this a double marginalization. In Africa, women do not have full access to education as compared to men. Lack of education together with discrimination to indigenous culture put limits to women’s empowerment.

In January 2018, FAO launched the Indigenous Women global campaign to empower these women and make them visible for their contributions to agriculture, hence the concept that ‘’no one is left behind.’’

More than 90 organizations with majority from Africa joined the campaign and they are coming from academic institutions and indigenous organizations.

Identifying Champions

FAO and International Indigenous Women Forum (FIMI) organized a two week intensive training for indigenous women all across Africa in Nairobi to broaden their knowledge on Human Rights, Food Security and Nutrition. The program which commenced on the 1st of October, 2018, Training of Trainers, built the capacity and improved the leadership roles of women in protecting their indigenous territories.

How to join the campaign

The campaign introduced the “Violet Chair” as a symbol to draw the attention of the law makers, stakeholders and the rest of the society on behalf of the indigenous women. This chair is a visual representation to serve as a platform to voice out the barriers and challenges women face in their daily activities and to elevate active participation in the policy making processes. Violet has become a representative colour for women’s struggle to be heard.

How to participate in the campaign, take a photo with the chair which will be present at any dialogue space. Spot it by finding a Violet Chair decorated with indigenous textiles, symbols or handicrafts in violet tones.

A photo contest similar to what was held in Asia will be organized throughout November to the first week of December. The theme of this contest is “Indigenous Women and Food Security in Africa’’ where all indigenous women of Africa (without age limit) can take part in. The contest has the objective of making visible the contributions and challenges of indigenous women for food security and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger.

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