ICRISAT-Mali Women’s Forum members with Director of Poupponniere and others. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

International Women’s Day celebrations across ICRISAT

ICRISAT-Mali Women’s Forum members with Director of Poupponniere and others. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

ICRISAT-Mali Women’s Forum members with Director of Poupponniere and others. Photo: A Diama, ICRISAT

Women’s empowerment is a major cross-cutting area of ICRISAT’s holistic approach. Various ICRISAT centers celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March by reiterating the importance of gender inclusiveness and economic and social empowerment of women in rural as well as urban areas.

Bamako, Mali: As part of the IWD celebration, ICRISAT Women’s Forum in Mali visited the Centre d’Accueil et de Placement Familial (CAPF) known as “La Pouponnière”. During the visit, the forum presented Mrs Diarra Aminata Diabate, Director, CAPF, with various donations including diapers, powdered milk, sugar and flour made of whole grains (millet, sorghum, maize, fonio and cowpea).
This flour was prepared by members of the forum for
the children.

According to Ms Agathe Diama, Leader of the Forum, the choice of the nursery for its first external activity emerged as a priority because it is in line with ICRISAT’s mission and its belief that all people have the right to nutritious food and a better livelihood.

The enriched flour was especially appreciated by the staff of the center. “We have a great interest to collaborate with ICRISAT Women’s Forum and explore ways to improve children’s nutrition. Cereals such as millet and sorghum are accessible, healthy and easy to cook. Most imported products are expensive and often outdated. We look forward to working together with the Forum,” said Mrs. Konate Marie Anne Berthe. “By collaborating with ICRISAT, we expect to improve and bring more nutritious food to cover the nutritional needs of the children in this center,” added Mrs Diabate.

The members of the forum also visited the Point G University Hospital Center (CHU), where they met with women who are suffering from obstetric fistula. A donation including grains of millet, sorghum and rice, with few other products was made. Also, a financial contribution was given to the hospital.

All donations were made out of savings of the forum members from the USD 20 given to each ICRISAT female staff member on the occasion of IWD for organizing an activity of their choice. Both visits are a demonstration of the love, compassion and support that the forum has for the women and the children visited.

Elsewhere, to emphasize the importance of empowering and encouraging women to play a larger role in society, ICRISAT-Mali chaired a panel discussion, ‘They Inspire’, between award-winning women and young girls, as part of IWD celebrations. The dialogue was moderated by Ms Agathe Diama, Head – Regional Information, ICRISAT – West and Central Africa. Dr Jummai Yila, Gender Scientist, ICRISAT, also attended the event where prominent women achievers of Africa spoke about inspiring and nurturing young African women for greater participation in decision-making systems.

The event was organized by AllAfrica Global Media Group, in partnership with the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment, on 7 March in Bamako, Mali. The UNHLP was created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in January 2016, with the aim of placing women’s economic empowerment at the top of the global agenda to accelerate progress under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Women at Jawhar watershed celebrate economic self-reliance on Women’s Day. Photo: Satish Gahukar

Women at Jawhar watershed celebrate economic self-reliance on Women’s Day. Photo: Satish Gahukar

Maharashtra, India: In Jawhar, Palghar district, 30 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) for women have been promoted. These SHGs were trained and are now managing seed banks in their villages. This will help address the issue of seed availability. Seven SHGs were trained in gliricidia nursery raising, which is helping these groups earn an average profit of Rs. 35,000. The nursery interventions have helped them gain confidence, and these SHGs have now started working on agricultural production. Three SHGs were supported to buy irrigation pumps for supplementary irrigation. The pumps are also being given on rent to other farmers, generating additional income for the groups. One SHG initiated cultivation of cash crops under shade net with drip irrigation. Three groups were supported to buy power tillers under a farm mechanization initiative. These tillers too are being rented out, generating additional income for the SHGs. These income-generating activities have resulted in financial independence and increased confidence for the rural women.

Karnataka, India: In Bellary district, women have successfully made use of various income-generation schemes. Activities such as raising gliricidia nurseries, vermicomposting and running grocery shops have provided additional incomes of Rs. 1000 -1500 (USD 15 – 23) per month to women in rural areas.

In Vijapura district, women SHGs were supported with revolving funds. The SHGs further distributed this fund as loans to individual members for income-generation activities, which includes goat rearing, tailoring, running grocery shops and preparing and selling homemade food items. This has helped members earn an average of Rs. 1500 – 3000 (USD 23 – 45) as additional income.

Hyderabad, India: IWD was celebrated at ICRISAT-India through a creative workshop that fostered self-reliance, teamwork, self-awareness and health among the female employees. As part of various workshop activities, participants were encouraged to work in teams to put forward competitive and creative ideas for excellence in personal and professional life. There was a special focus on women’s health and well-being. Every participant was presented with a sapling at the end of the session. The event resulted in great camaraderie and cooperation among the participants.

At a panel discussion on ‘Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030’ organized by the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), participants discussed (i) Gender equality for boost in economic growth ii) Challenges at workplace/home and iii) Technological advances and digital change for empowering women at work. ICRISAT was represented by Ms Joanna Kane-Potaka. Other members on the panel were: Dr Jayasree Subramanian, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Ms Manvitha Reddy, Agri-entrepreneur; and Dr M Krishnan, Senior Faculty, NAARM. The session was moderated by Dr Kalpana Sastry, Director (Acting), NAARM.

This work contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal

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