The poorest people live in rural areas and women are more likely to be poor than men.
In Zambia an estimated 90% of the people that MicroLoan Foundation works with are female smallholder farmers who grow food on small plots of land of between 0.5 and 2 acres. Female farmers are less productive than their male counterparts because they do not have the same access to education, support and finance to invest in their farm. Women also do 75% of unpaid work in the household which means they have less time to tend to the land or earn an income to support their family.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. This project contributes directly to the goals No Poverty, Zero Hunger and Gender Equality. The impact of our work also addresses the goals on Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Climate Action, Life on Land and Partnerships for the Goals.
MicroLoan Foundation is providing female farmers with entrepreneurship training and access to small loans to invest in their farms to buy high quality seeds and in some cases fertilizer. They also get access to training in conservation farming to learn how to increase their harvests and produce more food to feed their family as well as using farming techniques that are good for the environment.
How MicroLoan’s project addresses this problem:
The farmers learn financial and farming skills including:
Land preparation – how to prepare the land to a make sure the rains do not wash the soil away.
Crop rotation to improve the soil quality – growing both maize and soya will improve the nutrients in the soil and lead to better harvests
Making organic fertilizer – growing a plant called Glirisidia which generates nitrogen and enriches soil and thereby increasing the productivity of other crops. It also stops soil erosion as it binds the soil.
Budgeting – how to make a budget and business plan.
Saving for a rainy day – setting savings goals and make savings for the future. This builds resilience and security for families to ensure that they have something to fall back on if there are floods, droughts or crop failure.
25 female farmers in Chipata will take part in financial literacy training, conservation farming training, and get access agricultural loans (note that the growing season starts in October/November so the conservation farming training will commence then).
As the women learn business and farming skills their harvests become bigger – in many cases we see the yields double after a female farmer joins MicroLoan Foundation’s Agricultural Programme. The women have on average of four children each and as household income increases, the women can afford to feed their families a nutritious diet, pay for healthcare and send their children to school.
70% of the world’s poor are women. But why are women and girls more likely to be poor than men? Women are often disadvantaged by traditional and cultural structures and are expected to take on different roles in society. As a result, women have less access to education, employment, finance and asset ownership (like a house, land, animals or a bicycle) – all central aspects of being part of economic life and finding a way out of poverty. In some countries gender inequality is incorporated into the law, for example this can be seen in land ownership rights or inheritance rights where women will lose their home if the husband passes way. Inequality on landownership is a major challenge, as 50%-80% of the workforce engaging in food production are women but they only own 10% of the land.
Women are also disproportionately impacted by climate change as they represent a high percentage of poor communities that are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood, particularly in rural areas they take responsibility for household water supply and energy for cooking and heating, as well as for food security.
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