Diary of an agronomist: the endeavors of women have profound roots

Mar 02, 2015 | written by:

Hi, my name is Niccolò and I’m one of Treedom’s agronomists. My job takes me to faraway places from Africa to South America in order to share my agricultural knowledge with local populations. Together, we take care of the trees that you can adopt. The purpose of this diary is to recount my journeys and to bring you advice from faraway lands.

 

While I was in the rural village of Ahubi, Tanzania, I observed and admired the dignity of the women who carried out their tasks, all day long, with the conviction that things would be this way forever. At the break of dawn, a caravan of erect and austere women with children loaded on their backs and buckets balanced on their heads walked towards the well, in the midst of acacia-resplendent savannahs, to replenish their families’ water supply. This water, along with fire tended daily by the women, was used to cook beans, rice, bananas, and at times chicken. Though the occasional, meager sum of money was brought home by the husbands, the management of fundamental human resources - water, fire, and often land for planting and harvesting - was in the hands of the women.

 

Such balances are labile and, at times, apparent. Both are marked by frustrations, but it’s often the woman who suffers the physical and direct consequences for the causes that we are familiar with: male chauvinism, marginalization, alcoholism, violence. Dozens of women have decided to unite in female cooperatives to meet the need to reaffirm themselves through the management of micro-entrepreneurial activities. Such examples of strong, independent socio-economic nucleuses strengthen female political and decisional power in both family and community contexts. Some examples include the women’s groups who harvest Cacao in Camerun, the cooperative Odini within the Treedom project in Kenya that sells Avocados, or the Apad group in Senegal that produces orange and lemon juices for local and national markets.

 

While tasting the products of the aforementioned cooperatives, I listened to the words of Fatima Stephanie, a young entrepreneur. She spoke of the meaning of courage, and especially considering the cultural and religious contexts in which women are often denigrated, I was struck by her statement, “Here we [women] are accustomed to being together daily, making decisions together, consulting each other, and letting ourselves be advised by the group. When we understood that together we could create an authoritative model that would allow us to develop our skills and launch our own, independent activities, we did what we hope that all women in the world can do: we imposed and emancipated ourselves. I’ve heard people say that we’re courageous, silent, and determined. I’m not sure if that’s how we really are, I simply define myself as a woman.”

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