Empowering women, one tree at a time

When Linda won a contest which brought her to be a reporter for a month in a Ugandan village, she could not imagine how this would have transformed her life.

Living with a local family, and going to the fields to pick cotton every day, generated close bonds with the villagers who often shared their stories with her. While listening, Linda got particularly moved hearing women talking about their challenge of needing to provide for their families, while often having little say in their households.

When women are excluded from the process of taking decisions in a family or a community, the negative consequences are multiple, including a decrease in food and nutrition security. As much in Uganda as in most parts of the word, mothers have the apparently simple but fundamental role of filling their families’ bellies up with nourishing foods every day.

Highlighting this link to food security, experts at the CFS 44 side event Feminism, Forests and Food security called for the need to address the “three R’s” underpinning gender inequalities: lack of rights, representation and resources. Indeed, giving voice to women in decision making, recognising their land rights, and allowing access to finance are key stepping stones to trigger change in the social structures often marginalising women.

In parallel to those much-needed, but long-term and profound changes, there is a need for easily implementable and rapid solutions. That’s where trees and forests come in. “Agroforestry can empower women by giving them time” stressed Linda Andersson, one of the panellists at the side event, “it can provide food, complementing a family’s diet, but also fuel or feed for animals”. In agroforestry trees or shrubs grow with other crops, and firewood or wild foods can be collected instead of from the forest, “literally from outside the doorstep”. “Facilitating women in the daily chores allows them to spend the rest of the time in, for instance, other economic activities” concludes Linda.

Agroforestry is certainly no silver bullet, and requires a tailored approach in each local context. Yet, it could potentially spark a virtuous cycle where the root causes supporting gender inequalities are gradually questioned. And linked to this, it can contribute to well-nourished families.

As for Linda, once back in Sweden, she left her secure job in marketing and communications at once and started working with development cooperation in Africa, determined to change gender disparities and help fill up bellies, one tree at a time.


This blog covers the CFS44 side event “Feminism, Forests and Food security”

Blogpost by Daniele Crimella, #CFS44 Social Reporter – daniele.crimella(at)su.se
Photo Credit: Alejandro Bayer Tamayo via
Flickr (features Calliandra, a plant often used for agroforestry in East Africa as it enhances soil fertility and its leaves can be used as fodder)

This post is part of the live coverage during the 44rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security, a social media project supported by GFAR. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

10/10/2017 23:29


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