Women in Malawi have
shown they will work to help the country attain food security if given
resources. They are doing this through a movement known as the Coalition of
Women Farmers, which is trying to empower women to achieve food security.
ActionAid International is funding the effort.
A recent survey by
ActionAid Malawi to establish the link between women and hunger has established
that the women experience food shortages largely because they are denied access
to farm resources.
The report says
despite the government’s continuing Targeted Input Subsidy Program, the process
is male dominated, and many women, specifically those heading households, are
It says in some
cases, officials have told such women that the computer has skipped their
Chandiwira Chisi is
in charge of the anti-hunger project at the ActionAid International-Malawi. He
says It’s against this background that the NGO emphasizes the
effects on women, “If you look at the root causes of this hunger, you will find
there are deep-rooted cultural practices which are coming in from patriarchal
tendencies and patrilineal systems that are advancing these behaviors. We also
help them [the women] with advocacy skills to enable them [to] engage with
traditional authorities on a continuous basis to advance their issues.”
Chisi says the NGO
sometimes provides the farmers with fertilisers and start-up seeds.
He says his
organization has also helped women negotiate with traditional leaders on
problems facing women in food production.
“Currently in Rumphi [a district in
northern Malawi], we have cases where women have successfully managed to
convince some traditional leaders to allocate them land in their own right as
women. It could be [a] small figure but we think it’s a breakthrough. We never
thought they would achieve this in a short period of time,” he says.
Nellipie Ntete is the
chairperson of the Coalition of Women Farmers. She says the effort is resolving food shortages at the family level, “We encourage women and girls to engage in
farming because (they) are the ones most affected by hunger, despite being the
ones who take control of household activities.”
Ntete says about 300
women have been allocated land now for farming. They're encouraged to
grow both cash and food crops.
Beatrice Nyirenda is
a member of the coalition. She says with proceeds from a rented piece of land
on which she grew tobacco she has managed to buy a bicycle and build a