Sheila Mary Bahonya

The International Women's Day, reflects on the strides made towards gender equality while recognizing the persistent challenges that remain. This year's theme, "Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment",  underscores the critical role of investing in women's empowerment to drive societal advancement and sustainable development. From economic participation to leadership representation, empowering women yields far-reaching benefits for communities and economies worldwide.

Investing in women's economic empowerment is not just a matter of fairness; it's smart economics. Women often face significant barriers in accessing resources, markets, and decision-making roles. Investing in women in agribusiness means more than just providing financial support; it involves creating an enabling environment that fosters their participation and leadership. By empowering women they will engage in agriculture and entrepreneurship, we not only enhance their livelihoods but also contribute to food security, poverty reduction, and rural development. Women invest more in their families' health, education, and well-being, leading to intergenerational benefits. Initiatives such as access to finance, land, training, entrepreneurship support, promoting technology adoption and strengthening value chains  are crucial steps towards creating inclusive economies that harness the full potential of women.

Education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty and empowerment for one to reach their full potential. Investing in girls' education and skills development not only enhances their individual capabilities but also contributes to broader social and economic progress. By ensuring equal access to quality education and training opportunities, we can equip women with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the workforce and drive innovation. There have been many training programs that have been launched by different organisations which focus on inclusivity of women and through them many women in Africa and other parts of the globe have been able to acquire skills and grow economically. The Agripreneurship Alliance through its Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness (EiA) and Agribusiness Readiness course has always encouraged women and girls to enrol for the courses respectively and through our impact stories, it is evident that through education and trainings we can achieve the common goal of #investinginwomen and #empowerment. 

Women's voices and perspectives are essential for effective decision-making and governance at all levels. Yet, women remain underrepresented in leadership positions across various sectors. Initiatives that promote women's leadership and political participation, can create more inclusive societies and institutions that reflect the diversity of our communities. Breaking down barriers to entry and fostering supportive environments are critical steps towards achieving gender-balanced representation in leadership roles.

Investing in women's health and well-being is not only a matter of human rights but also essential for sustainable development.The annual series report jointly produced by UN Women and UN DESA provides a comprehensive analysis of gender equality progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Access to reproductive healthcare, maternal and child health services, and mental health support are fundamental rights that must be prioritized to ensure women can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Addressing gender-based violence and discrimination is also crucial for creating safe and supportive environments where women can thrive.

Harnessing the power of technology and innovation can be a game-changer for women's empowerment. There is a rise in technological development and we have seen many women getting involved in STEM. This shows how much the digital gender gap is being closed and we see opportunities to leverage technology for women-led entrepreneurship, investing in tech-enabled solutions can unlock new opportunities and address longstanding challenges. By ensuring that women have equal access to digital tools, resources, and opportunities, we can create more inclusive and resilient societies in the digital age.

On International Women's Day and beyond, let us reaffirm our commitment to investing in women and girls as catalysts for progress and change. By prioritising economic empowerment, education, leadership, health, and technology, we can accelerate the journey towards gender equality and create a more just and equitable world for all. Together, let us harness the power of investment to unlock the full potential of women and build a brighter future for generations to come. 

Sheila Mary Bahonya, 

Agripreneurship Alliance

8 March 2024

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