"It will never work! People are used to getting handouts – if you're not giving out free things, your project will fail."
This is the message that one of MEDA's project managers was met with when MEDA first proposed working with women farmers in Ghana. Five years later, MEDA's GROW (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) project has reached over 20,000 women who now have nutritious food throughout the year and larger and improved farms. At our third Women Empowering Women meetings in Lancaster and Souderton, PA, we featured the GROW project and had the opportunity to hear from three MEDA supporters who recently returned from a MEDA Field Experience visit to the project. Joan Nathan, Rita Hoover and Lisa Gautsche said the following after seeing the project firsthand:
"The women are more independent, more confident, seen as more important in their villages, have increased income that they have channeled into healthier futures for themselves and their children... future generations and many children’s lives will be changed... MEDA has really made a difference here."
Through the GROW project, MEDA is helping women farmers and their families access a sustainable supply of nutritious food by strengthening production and market linkages, increasing diversification in production and creating nutrition awareness. A key component of the project is to encourage soybean production and marketing, using tested value chain approaches that will help families rise above conditions that hamper family food security. The project offers women and their families a basket of opportunities, including training on nutrition and farming practices, linkages to suppliers of capital, buyers, financial services and inputs, and access to appropriate technologies.
In Ghana, women play a central role in the provision of food and nutrition for their families. They need opportunities to improve their incomes and reduce their dependency on food aid and safety net programs. With the training and support the project provides, over 20,000 women in Ghana have been empowered to reach their full potential and become agents of positive change in their families and communities.
In addition to featuring the GROW project at the meeting, we also continued to discuss why empowering and mobilizing women is key to economic development, social change and, ultimately, a better world. If you were at the MEDA Convention this past November, you had the opportunity to hear from a number of powerful women whose message was loud and clear: The key to peaceful, prosperous, and just communities is the full economic, social and political participation of women. (For those who weren’t at the MEDA Convention, you can find all of the keynote addresses here.)
Women possess unique and powerful abilities that communities around the world simply cannot afford to ignore. The health and education of our children, the welfare of the environment, the peaceful coexistence of diverse people groups and the development of sustainable and equitable social, economic, and political systems depend on women.
As our first year of the Women Empowering Women initiative draws to a close, we are so thankful for the friendships forged as a result of this group and the generous support generated for MEDA's projects. Your contributions have helped provide women around the world now have opportunities to create their own business solutions to poverty. We hope you can join us for our next meetings in March, 2017.
For more information on MEDA's GROW project watch this video and visit this webpage!
For more photos of our most recent WEW meetings, click the link on the sidebar!