Today Sokopepe joins the World in celebrating the International Women Day 2017. This year’s theme is “Be Bold for Change.” The annual celebration is marked on March 8. This year’s celebration not only honours women who took the step to be bold for change, but also challenges everyone to take calculated and intentional bold steps to effect change in their own small way.
Sokopepe is recognising and celebrating some of the bold women who are forging a better working world for others. Sokopepe has taken a bold step to effect change in their own small way by intentionally promoting women inclusion in staffing patterns, thus a workforce comprising of 62 percent women. These women have taken steps to be bold for change and are trying to ensure a more inclusive gender equal world.
The countless acts of courage and determination carried out by these women have significantly contributed in empowering smallholder farmers in Meru County.
Women learning about Sokopepe during a training in Meru County
Ms. Gladwellah Muthoni, A production Information Agent (PIA) at Sokopepe has been one of the most passionate extension officers at the social enterprise. She is a keen believer in ensuring that women have equal access to productive resources. She believes that this not only ensures that women increase agricultural productivity but also have better control of their economic destinies.
She has been leading in the provision of record keeping data, demand-driven extension services, boosting farmer’s access to information and supporting farmers in documenting their innovations and experiences.
“I am always eager to help women farmers pull down the barriers that they face. Women play a critical role in food production and in achieving food security,” said Ms. Muthoni.
On her part, Fridah Gatwiri, 26, a Production Information Agent (PIA) at Sokopepe and a leading youth farmer has been an inspiration to many aspiring farmers.
She has been training farmers on record keeping, best agricultural practices, market information and linkages, conservation agriculture and the importance of high-value crops. When she is not at work, she is busy tending to her 3 acres leased farm.
“Over the years I have worked through my weaknesses and imperfections. I am now proud of every step that I take in fulfilling my goals in life,” said Ms. Gatwiri.
“I always try as much as possible to make a change in women farmers. Hearing from farmers and knowing that I helped them make an informed decision always makes me proud,” said Ms. Gatwiri.
She is always eager to encourage Youth to embrace agriculture instead of searching for elusive white-collar jobs.
Kaubau Vision CBO members being trained on FARMIS innovation
On her part, Ms. Judy Nkatha, Partnership and Linkages officer at Sokopepe has carved a niche in seeking for partnerships that are helping to develop and unlock services downstream in value chains.
Her dedication in seeking for partnerships has seen Sokopepe partner with seven agricultural service/product providers. This has helped to enhance good agricultural practices and to provide economical, effective, and sustainable agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers.
“I always believe that tackling barriers that hold back the productivity of women farmers could usher in broader economic growth,” said Mr. Nkatha.
Ms. Nkatha is always at the forefront in ensuring that women farmers are able to access and repay loans without relying on their husbands, and women are able to choose farming enterprises and make informed farming decisions.
On her part, Ms. Roseline Ngusa, a Co-Director at Sokopepe has been at the social enterprise since its inception in 2014. Through Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), she learned about challenges faced by marginalised communities and when the opportunity to be an agripreneur arose, she seized it.
Since then she has been making a social impact by working with smallholder farmers by addressing the lack of accurate production, marketing and operational data in agriculture. Her passion in mentoring female staff at Sokopepe and enthusiasm in ensuring smallholder farmers embrace record keeping and increase productivity and profitability is always palpable when she is talking about Agribusiness.
“I am an accountant with a passion for agripreneurship. Given my professional background, I know the importance of records and am sure those records can make a difference in farmer’s lives and they are able to increase productivity and profitability,” said Ms. Ngusa.
She has taken a keen interest in financial inclusion. She has been at the forefront in ensuring that Sokopepe is leveraging on existing relationships within the value chains to ensure farmers access financial services sustainably while unbanked farmers enjoy new possibilities.
“I am determined to ensure that we continue working with financial service providers to build financial literacy for smallholder farmers as well as their financial capabilities,” said Ms. Ngusa.
The disparity between women and men characterises most spheres of society. Giving women an equal opportunity and allowing them to reach their full potential is important in ensuring an inclusive gender equal society.