A research project that explores business opportunities for rural women in Eastern and Southern Africa has today been launched in Kampala. Peace Mutuuzo, Minister of State for Gender and Culture, launched the research project that would support agricultural and business opportunities for rural women in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Peace Mutuuzo, Minister of State for Gender and Culture, launched the research project that would support agricultural and business opportunities for rural women in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
The two-year research project is funded by Canadian-based International Development Research Centre.
In Uganda the research project will be implemented by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE). It will be conducted in Mbarara, Mukono and Soroti districts. The districts were chosen based on levels of poverty from high through medium to low.
In Kenya it will be implemented by Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development while in Zimbabwe by the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe.
Minister Mutuuzo said it would also be interesting to see researchers and technologists developing innovative tools that women can use in agriculture.
Mutuuzo said researchers and manufacturers need to explore technologies women can utilise.
According to Prof. Winstone Muhwezi, a research fellow at ACODE, research into business opportunities for particularly rural women on and off the farm is crucial and timely because, of the 18 million Ugandans living in poverty majority are women.
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Dr. Susan Kavuma, a Research Fellow at ACODE, said if Uganda is to have inclusive growth and development she must target women in all interventions, adding that poverty has a woman's face.
Dr. Kavuma said women tend to engage in business out of necessity hence the need to support them. He added tha most women-owned businesses have the potential of employing more women than men-owned businesses. She said if women are empowered in their businesses, it has more sustainable effect.
The Executive Director of Kenya's Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development, Masheti Masinjula, said they will focus on daily farming, beekeeping and poultry as well as associated industries and poultry.
According to Masinjula, it is important to empower women to understand the environment in which they work and influence policy makers and researchers.
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Prof. Sara Feresu, the Director of Zimbabwe's Institute of Environmental Studies, said the research project will, among other things, support economic empowerment of rural women in order to overcome structural barriers and enable them take advantages of business opportunities.
Gender activist Miria Matembe challenged the researchers to explain why their project is different from other similar researches and wondered what benefit it would bring to women other than just doing research on them.
In response, Dr. Kavuma said the research is action-oriented, meaning it will be linked with practicalities like mentorship, skills development, business development, expansion of their businesses and profitability, among others.
Dr. Paul Okwi, IDRC's Senior Programme Officer, said unlike other funders and researchers who exploit findings for their ulterior motives, IDRC makes sure that the research is carried out by local partners and communities to find local solutions to their local challenges.
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Dr. Okwi said their approach to development departs from that by many governments in Africa. He cited programmes like the Women Empowerment Programme and Youth Livelihood Programme which, although well-intentioned, are not research-based making their implementation challenging.
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According to Dr. Okwi, their approach is that any development initiative must be backed by research especially that which is localised to the problem it is tackling.