President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the lack of access to finance for women in agriculture remains a constraint which must be addressed if women are to become more productive in Africa’s agricultural transformation.
According to a dispatch from Kigali, President Sirleaf made the statement when she chaired a high level breakfast forum of the Empowering Women in Agriculture (EWA) initiative in Kigali on Saturday, July 16.
President Sirleaf who has since returned home from Kigali called on African leaders to support the initiative adding “EWA has the potential of lifting women farmers out of poverty through enhancement of their productivity.” She said the implementation of the EWA initiative will integrate women farmers’ interests with ongoing programs of agricultural transformation in Africa.
Also speaking, Senegalese President Macky Sall called for more support for projects which give women opportunities to expand in agriculture. He said not enough resources are being directed towards buttressing the efforts of African women in the areas of business and governance, a situation he said was depriving African economies of potential spin-off benefits.
The co-Chair of the EWA Initiative and President of Rwanda, Paul Kigame, said women’s empowerment in all spheres is tied to rapid and effective national development and growth.
In a statement delivered on his behalf by Rwandan Agriculture Minister Dr. Geraldine Mukeshimana, the Rwandan President called on African leaders to integrate women’s issues with the mainstream of all sectors in society.
For his part, the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Adesina, promised more support from the Bank for the EWA Initiative in keeping with its own policy for improving agricultural productivity on the continent, while African Union Commission Chairman Dr. Zuma promised the AU’s renewed commitment to the initiative.