Today, on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women, Corteva Agriscience celebrates the journey of 30 rural women farmers and agripreneurs in South Africa participating in its year-long blended development programme. This initiative, known as #SoilSistas, has been a beacon of empowerment since 2020, focusing on enhancing entrepreneurial, business, and leadership skills among women in agriculture.
Corteva Agriscience, a global leader in agricultural innovation, is steadfast in its commitment to empowering women in agriculture worldwide. Its partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science Entrepreneurship Development Academy aims to bridge the gender gap in the agricultural sector, where women have historically faced disparities in economic return and employment compared to their male counterparts.
This year’s International Day of Rural Women, themed “Rural women cultivating good food for all,” underscores the vital role played by rural women and girls in the world’s food systems. From planting and harvesting to processing and distributing food, their labour, both paid and unpaid, sustains their families, communities, and the global population. Yet, despite their immense contributions, they often lack equal power, leading to lower income and higher food insecurity.
The 12-month #SoilSistas programme, shaped by insights from Corteva’s 2018 study on women in agriculture, addresses the many challenges faced by women farmers. By nurturing their skills and expertise, the initiative not only uplifts these women but also enriches their families and communities.
Empowering rural women: A collective vision for sustainability
Betty Kiplagat, head of government affairs and sustainability for Corteva Agriscience Africa Middle East, earlier emphasised, “Through this programme, we make an impact on the lives and businesses of these women in the agriculture sector, as well as their families and their communities.”
Miranda Hosking, director of GIBS EDA, also highlighted the importance of this initiative, stating, “We are delighted to partner with Corteva Agriscience to strengthen the capacity of women in agriculture so that they are better equipped to contribute to this key sector, and ultimately to create jobs and grow the economy.”
In a release, UN Women says the Covid-19 pandemic and climate crises have exacerbated challenges for rural women, with 2.37 billion people experiencing food insecurity in 2020. Its latest report, “Beyond Covid-19: A feminist plan for sustainability and social justice,” advocates for rebuilding the global food system by empowering rural women.
With less than a decade to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, including zero hunger and gender equality, UN Women underscores the importance of supporting rural women’s resilience, skills, and leadership.