Dar es Salaam. As people around the world declare their commitment to ‘Generation Equality’, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action - a progressive roadmap for female empowerment, Mwanaisha Salehe a climate-smart farmer has already trained 1,200 community women, and offered jobs to 15 workers.
Mwanaisha who at some point was living in difficult conditions has brought change to her community by coming up with climate smart agriculture.
She came up with the skills after she was selected to attend a tailored six-week course in sustainable agricultural systems at EARTH University.
Together with this group, now known as Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) Association climate-smart Agriculture Guides, Mwanaisha learnt new techniques and built upon the indigenous traditions used in her community.
She gained skills in building water pumps for irrigation, in the use of agroforestry (mixing trees with lower growing crops), in the use of natural fertilizers, and in value addition (processing and packaging produce to increase profit margins).
“I noticed climate change and its impact on my community. There has been a drastic fall in food production,” she said.
Raised in rural Tanzania, in challenging circumstances after her parents separated at a tender age, it fell on her mother and grandmother to support the family.
Though they worked hard, their income was not sufficient and sometimes the family went to bed without food. Living one day at a time, it was almost impossible forMwainaisha to picture her future as a leader and an entrepreneur.
It was with a small bursary from the Municipal Council’s Vulnerable Children Fund, her mother and grandmother’s encouragement that Mwanaisha managed to keep attending school.
In 2006, Mwanaisha was made aware of a network of young women working to rewrite this narrative. The CAMFED Association had been founded in Tanzania and was already active in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Ghana.
It was formed by like-minded female leaders, once among the most marginalized girls in their communities, who were overcoming obstacles for themselves and others through education and peer-support.
Mwanaisha joined the association and quickly became a valued member. With their support and the Girls' Education Challenge, funded by UK Aid, she trained as a life-skills mentor, volunteering her time to deliver a wellbeing curriculum in school.
From there she became a Core Trainer, cascading her knowledge so that more members could step up as Learner Guides and Transition Guides. Between 2011 and 2013, Mwanaisha held the elected position of District Chairperson.
In 2014, an exciting opportunity arose, through CAMFED’s partnership with the MasterCard Foundation and EARTH University, for Mwanaisha to learn new skills in climate-smart agriculture.
Meanwhile Camfed launched the International Women’s Day campaign by highlighting the impact of educated women in rural Africa, who became independent, influential leaders of sustainable businesses.
Executive Adviser and founding member of the CAMFED, Fiona Mavhinga, said as people around the globe declare their allegiance to Generation Equality, collectively, we are taking stock, at a time when not a single country has achieved gender equality, with only 10 years to go to meet the Sustainable Development Goals to make the world a healthier, safer, more equal and more prosperous place.
It all starts with education, and with women and girls being valued equally, with the same opportunities and rights as their male counterparts.
“Equality starts with education. Education paves the way for financial independence and leadership. When a woman is financially independent, she has a voice; she has agency; she can resist exploitation and make decisions about her body and her future,” she said.