An RWA regional delegation met with Ms Rosalie Ndeye Lo, Head of the NEPAD’s Gender Programme on 4 July 2017. She explained that NEPAD is the technical arm of the AU but are busy transforming to focus more on policy and implementation of Agenda 2026. The 50 year development programme will focus on agriculture, the blue economy and mobilise African resources for African human capital development. Rural industrialisation is high on the agenda. She gave an overview of some of their initiatives on the continent. Most of the initiatives focus on developing business and entrepreneurial skills. In Zambia, it focused on building entrepreneurs, together with LEAD Africa. In South Africa, they build entrepreneurial skills of young women affected by violence. Their Spanish partnership programme introduced a business incubation project for African women entrepreneurs in Kenya, Swazi, Sudan and Burundi. In West Africa, their fishery programme is more gender-sensitive and they give support for export initiatives. They also helped to establish a regional platform.
RWA members shared their frustration with the CAADP programme. Especially the fact that rural women are excluded from CAADP processes, decision-making and benefits. Ms Lo stated that CAADP is gender-neutral and demand driven. Countries must produce development plans before they can benefit from the programme. She committed to sending a calendar of country processes so that RWA members can participate at country level. RWA also expressed their concern with the fact that CAADP promotes hybrid seeds, chemicals and monocultures which contribute to malnutrition and the loss of indigenous seeds and knowledge. Ms Lo agreed that it is important that traditional knowledge is not compromised through science and new technologies.
RWA members also expressed their frustration with member states limited social security measures, especially for older women. Ms Lo stated that member states must put a social security measure in place.
She committed to the following actions:
- Investigate how CAADP takes indigenous seeds into account
- Investigate social security safety nets for older women
- Ensure participation of rural women in CAADP processes
- Forward a calendar of country level CAADP processes
- Track improvements and progress to support to rural women
- Harmonise policies
- More promotion of organic agriculture
During reflections on the benefits of RWA members’ engagement at NEPAD, they commented on the usefulness of the exercise. They were more informed about NEPAD and its gender programme. They were also challenged about their structure (RWA’s) since only formalised (registered) entities can directly benefit through NEPAD’s programmes. One big concern is that they (NEPAD) promote harmonisation of seed policies, which is in direct contrast to RWA’s position of protecting diverse indigenous seeds. Their industrialisation programme also focuses on promoting capital interest without taking the interest of women and rural communities into account.
* Article submitted by Carmen Louw from the South African RWA Chapter