Apoyo a la inversión responsable en la agricultura y los sistemas alimentarios

Second phase of capacity development training on engaging women in responsible agricultural investments conducted in Sierra Leone


In May 2023 in collaboration with the civil society organization Solidaridad West Africa, FAO launched the second phase of a capacity development process targeting rural women and their organizations in Sierra Leone. This initiative aims at empowering rural women so they can actively participate in decision-making processes related to responsible agricultural investment, and by doing so raise their concerns, needs and proposals for more gender-responsive investments.

“Rural women are at the backbone of food security in Sierra Leone, comprising 70% of the agricultural labor force. Despite their key role, women are often disadvantaged and do not benefit from the same opportunities as men regarding agricultural activities,” explained Maud Oustry, Capacity Development expert at FAO.

As part of this second phase of the capacity development process, a Training of trainers (ToT) that targeted representatives of key organizations playing a strategic role in rural women’s empowerment, including representatives from state and non-state actors, was conducted in Freetown from 29th May to 1st June 2023. A total of 25 trainees were selected out of the 148 applications received. For 4 days, the trainees were familiarized with a methodology that has been specifically tailored to rural women in Sierra Leone, a population that is widely affected by illiteracy.

“It has been a life changing opportunity for me to witness this capacity building training. This will enable me and my organization to create more impact in the lives of our rural women and communities,” asserted Mr Foday Sorie Kamara, the Director of the Foundation for the youth empowerment and advocacy.

Using mostly audio-visual material, scenarios and drama play, participants learnt how to support rural women in the identification of challenges to engage in agricultural investment and potential solutions to address them. They also studied the existing policy frameworks that regulate key strategic topics to effective access to investments, such as access to customary lands or gender equality laws and regulations. Likewise, participants analyzed the key actors involved in decision-making related to investment in agriculture.

“Women have proven to be critical actors in agricultural food systems; therefore more women will invest in agriculture if they are capacitated,” stressed Fatmata Binta Jalloh, Assistant Gender Youth Expert at the Regional Rice Value Chain Project in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

The Principles for responsible investment in agriculture and food systems (CFS-RAI) were also a key topic discussed. The CFS-RAI is an international non-binding agreement that outlines 10 principles to make investments in agriculture contribute to food security and sustainable development. Principle 3 of the CFS-RAI calls to foster gender equality and women’s empowerment as a necessary condition to make investment benefit those who need it most.

“What I found most useful is the methodology used as I really learned how we use the different techniques (stakeholder mapping, visual vocabulary) and the 10 CFS-RAI principles” said Adikalie Morlai Kamara, Chairperson and Founder of the Wontanana Farmers Association.

After the ToT, trainees will apply the new knowledge and methodology by replicating the training in their respective districts, reaching to more rural women. Last year, when the first phase of this capacity development process took place, trainings covered the districts of Bo, Bombali, Kenema and Port Loko reaching over 135 rural women. This year, trainings will be delivered in the districts of Kambia, Koinadugi, Kono, Moyamba and Pujehun and will aim at strengthening the capacity of additional 150 grassroots rural women.

After the training replications in the districts, back-to-back constructive dialogue events will give grassroots rural women the opportunity to share their recommendations with key local stakeholders and initiate a genuine dialogue towards concrete solutions to empower women to engage in responsible agricultural investments.

This capacity development process is the outcome of a multi-stakeholder process initiated in 2020, during which representatives of key institutions and organizations collaborated to draft a roadmap. The roadmap defined concrete actions for more agricultural investments in Sierra Leone that would empower women and promote gender equality. More information about the roadmap can be found here.