IWD 2024: Invest in Women - Accelerate Progress

For International Women's Day under this year's theme 'Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress', we've compiled some recent highlights of the work and research AICCRA and partners are doing to support women in Africa's agricultural ecosystem - scaling access to resources, finances and skills to build resilience. 

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Senegal is launching an agricultural Gender and Climate Action Plan, informed by AICCRA engagement

Participants in the validation workshop for the Gender and Climate Action Plan in Senegal.


Through a partnership with AICCRA, Senegal's Ministry of Agriculture is coordinating the development of a Gender and Climate Action Plan for the agriculture sector, which will be crucial to inform national cross-sectoral gender and climate action led by the Ministry of Environment.

Dibor Sarr Faye, National Focal for Gender and Climate at the Ministry of Environment, emphasised that the sectorial plan will inform the national cross-sectorial plan, saying:

"With this sectorial Gender Action Plan, we pave the way for inclusive gender and climate sensitive solutions. I want to express gratitude to AICCRA for their support. With their continued partnership, we're empowered to mobilize resources and drive impactful change on a national scale."

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Boosting women’s role one pond at a time in Zambia

Mrs Cecilia Zulu besides one of her fishponds (Photo Credit: Kgothatso Mophosho)

           Mrs Cecilia Zulu besides one of her fishponds (Photo Credit: Kgothatso Mophosho)


Cecilia Zulu is one of a new cohort of women in Zambia now embarking on aquaculture after receiving capacity development and training on aquaculture production through an ‘Aquaculture Accelerator’ led by WorldFish and AICCRA.

Cecilia proudly notes that now she can decide whether to harvest fish for her own family’s consumption or whether to sell it at market - without seeking her husband's permission.

“Before I started getting into aquaculture things were hard…now I can personally make decisions to get fish to feed my family or to sell. …my neighbors admire what I do, and they also want to have fishponds."

She pointed out that this potential additional income from aquaculture has led to improved nutritional and educational outcomes for her children, as she can now more easily afford school equipment or medical prescriptions when they are needed.

Cecilia is encouraging women to invest in aquaculture, “one pond at a time”, as it will increase the well-being of their households.


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Savings club in Mali boosts women farmers access to climate-smart innovations

                Women of the 'Savings for Change' group in the Sikasso region of Mali. 


Accelerating the adoption of climate-smart technologies by overcoming financial barriers for smallholder farmers—especially women—is a priority for the AICCRA project. Thanks to the 'Savings for Change' program with AICCRA Mali, Syngenta Foundation and the Malian Association for Support and Advice to Community Initiatives (AMACIC), more than 30,000 women farmers in Mali are investing in climate-smart agriculture innovations which are boosting incomes by an average of USD618 per hectare.

Rokia Togola, a woman farmer from the Sikasso region of Mali, shared her personal experience with the Savings for Change mechanism. She stated that her income has increased, and now she can contribute to her children's school fees and healthcare. Her decision-making power on productive resources—such as the rental of agricultural land, the use of agricultural machinery and the payment of agricultural labor—has increased.


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Senegal Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge winner receives scaling investment

Representatives from WIC Captial and ACASEN SARL


One of AICCRA Senegal's Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge (GSAC) grant winners, ACASEN SARL, has received an investment of from WIC Capital and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The financing will be used to strengthen the company's production capacity and support its transition to industrial scale.

Speaking of AICCRA's Gender-Smart Accelerator Challenge, ACASEN CEO Hermione Awounou said:

"We are very grateful because the GSAC program has made our dream come true. The GSAC allowed ACASEN to initiate our scaling process through the capacity building and grant received to better position us to mobilize funds from impact investors.”

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Article: From gender gaps to gender-transformative climate-smart agriculture

This is for the gender and climate researchers! In a new review, Sophia Huyer, Ana Maria Loboguerrero, Nitya Chanana, and Olga Spellman explore a synthesis of research on gender transformation that proposes concepts for moving gender and climate research forward. 

Gender equality and intersectionality outcomes in climate-smart agriculture (CSA) require addressing inequality. Much of the research on the nexus between gender and climate has emphasized the negative impacts on women, in terms of their increased vulnerability to climate-related shocks. But the root causes of many climate-related vulnerabilies facing women persist because agricultural intervention approaches have largely ignored women as agents of change. However, inclusive action through farmers', women's and youth movements can be transformative.

The concept of CSA holds immense potential to support transformation as its effective implementation occurs within an enabling environment with social, economic and political dimensions. In the context of food systems transformation, gender transformation requires scalable, enabling mechanisms, and research should focus on what constitutes effective scaling and for whom. 


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Innovation hackathon sparks ideas for solving post-harvest losses in Senegal

SenAgriHack first place winners Aar Sunu Soblé alongside event organizers


Gender and social inclusion were a key goal for the inaugural SenAgriHack challenge, requiring that solutions demonstrated a gender-sensitive approach to climate change and addressed challenges faced by women in agricultural value chains. Gender was also highlighted both in the selection criteria for the finalists and in the evaluation of the solutions proposed.

The first-place prize went to “Aar Sunu Soblé”, a project spearheaded by three young women, Aïssatou Djigo, Ndèye Maïmouna Ndour and Coumba Thiaw Leye, who shared an innovative solution to manufacture and commercialize cotton fibers and millet stalk powder bags, offering an environmentally friendly alternative to polypropylene bags.


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Paper: Enabling gender and social inclusion in climate and agriculture policy and planning through foresight processes


In this recently published paper by Edwige Marty, Alcade C Segnon, Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, Sabrina Trautman, Sophia Huyer, Laura Cramer and Everisto Mapedza, learn more about why scenario-guided planning processes are important tools for ensuring that agriculture investment plans and other decisions and policies incorporate climate change concerns.

In these, gender and social inclusion should be prioritized from the onset and integrated at different stages of planning, notably by allocating more time, human, and financial resources to ensure inclusiveness.

Other key insights:

  • Parallel consultations among diverse organizations and groups can provide effective spaces for often-sidelined or marginalized groups’ interests and needs to be integrated into policy decision-making. In AICCRA's activities, we ensure that marginalized groups are consulted in the most appropriate ways, and their interests and needs are included in decisions and project activities.
  • Practitioners should further their use of foresight processes and development of tools and methods for integrating gender and social inclusion in these as part of the policy process, as well as strengthen the capacities, expertise, and role of conveners. In West Africa, AICCRA has worked with CORAF to develop and expand foresight analysis capacity in the region through both training and application of foresight in a concrete policy process. 
  • We can improve success by the promotion and dissemination of existing gender and social inclusion research and documentation as well as support for learning and reflection to refine identified leverage points. The gender database developed by AICCRA can help practitioners access evidence on gender and social inclusion.


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In their own words - women working with AICCRA in Senegal

Explore more of AICCRA's work in Gender and Social Inclusion


Women, the unsung heroes of rangeland management in Arbahajan Ward, Wajir County, Kenya


Senegalese women and youth empowered for climate-smart seed production


Lead farmer and early adopter of climate-smart agriculture, meet Phoebe Mwangangi of Makueni County, Kenya


Webinar Series: Gender and Social Inclusion


Additional reading:

The CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform is marking IWD 2024 by gathering stories—including several from AICCRA—that highlight work from across CGIAR and beyond on three key sub-themes:

  1. Invest in making finance available to women, youth and Indigenous peoples 
  2. Invest in women’s economic empowerment
  3. Invest in agricultural solutions that work for women