A High Level Meeting on the EWA (Empowering Women in Agriculture) Initiative was held at the sidelines of the 20th African Union Summit, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Chaired by H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo , Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the meeting was focused on the way forward after the launch of the Initiative in July 2012 and also aimed to provide an update to the partners involved.
The EWA Initiative is in support of the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Programme (CAADP) of the NEPAD and is aimed at building the capacity of women farmers and promoting fair access of women to agricultural inputs (land, financing, technology, etc.).
Addressing the gathering H.E President Obasanjo stated, "My passion and interest in agriculture are that when you look at the situation in Africa, women are not in direct control of agricultural production, distribution, commodities, inputs or essential agriculture supplies.
The role of women in agriculture is total and we can only ignore the capacities needed to our detriment and peril. Women produce approximately 50% in all areas of agriculture and the amount of work that women do, make them the hardest working people and yet they are deprived on several levels - culturally and socially."
H.E Obasanjo further stated that EWA is an advocacy platform that must be based on facts and have a clear path towards change in women's lives in Africa. "The forefront of advocacy is action and the monitoring of progress on achievements and challenges," he stated.
Presenting the way forward for the EWA Initiative, Dr. Frannie Léautier, ACBF Executive Secretary, highlighted the areas that EWA will make the most impact and where the needs and gaps are within the agricultural arena for women in Africa. The five priority areas include: leadership, access to land, access to inputs, communication and access to knowledge. EWA will provide a platform for linking these issues in the existing and ongoing efforts in gender and agriculture. The five key areas resulted from a scan of ongoing activities and programs in the gender and agriculture arena.
Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency, another distinguished participant to the Forum, highlighted the complementarity that has to be established between EWA and two programmes being implemented by the NEPAD Agency, namely the Rural Futures Programme which will take delve into treating the issue of agriculture in a holistic manner and interface it with development, and the Gender and Climate Change Programme which will look deeply into the needs of women farmers and also improve access to inputs and also strengthen women's organisation.
Other key institutions present at the meeting included the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the World Food Programme and the African Union (AU).