Female Leadership: supporting and encouraging more female involvement in cooperatives

18-11-2022 08:11:42
In the week of 7 November, Agriterra Kenya facilitated a Female Leadership training under the SDGP project.

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We trained 28 participants from 7 Kenyan coffee cooperatives. The group consisted of 7 men (mostly secretaries, treasurers and chairmen), and 21 women (mostly farmers with leadership potential, and current board members).

The goal of this training is to give the participants a better understanding of the position of women in cooperatives, which will contribute to a proactive attitude towards an increase in women’s membership, women entrepreneurship, and women’s leadership within the cooperative.

Most cooperatives are composed of male and female members. Often women form 30% to 40% of the members, and sometimes even more. However, despite these numbers, women farmers are frequently underrepresented in the decision-making bodies of their cooperative. The inclusion of women in cooperatives is important for the development of farmer-led agricultural enterprises, for the farm as a family business, and to contribute to more equal relations between men and women in general.  

Agriterra supports and encourages the process of building female leadership in cooperatives. We do this by:

  • Striving to build the capacity of current and potential female leaders of cooperatives by equipping them with leadership and management knowledge and skills
  • Raising awareness of gender roles among cooperative members, and how this influences the functioning of the cooperative.
  • Creating awareness of various leadership styles (formal and informal roles, and how to strengthen cooperative leadership)
  • Developing tailored advice for the cooperatives for improvement, and we outline follow-up actions to increase female membership, entrepreneurship and leadership.

As a part of this training, the participating cooperatives have made action plans they are going to work on after the training. They will be supported by Agriterra’s business advisors in doing so.

The action plans made included:

  1. How to encourage dual membership in coffee cooperatives (both men and women can be members from the same family), this is to close the gender gap in women accessing financial resources. From the value chain analysis done by participants, women play an integral role in production but when money is paid, it goes to the man thus, they want to improve this by encouraging men to give a few coffee bushes to the women
  2. Supporting new(from dual membership) and existing female members with tailored training on how to increase production and productivity.
  3. The cooperatives will support making inputs such as seeds and bio compost available to the women (such as with subsidized rates).
  4. The cooperatives will lobby for support for the women for other economic empowerment opportunities such as training them on the Village Savings and Loan Associations(VSLA) to improve their financial literacy, and support them to diversify sources of income for instance with beekeeping, poultry, and agroforestry.
  5. More capacity building will be done through women’s councils to develop confidence for the women to vie for elective positions.

Overall, we hope to increase women’s participation in the organisational structure and the value chain for improved household income and sustainability.

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