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| Return to the March 7, 2012 issue of eNews |

On March 8, International Women’s Day, we celebrate the theme of empowering rural women to end poverty and hunger.

Rural women in developing countries face many challenges to building better lives. Lutheran World Relief is proud to work side-by-side with women to address the root causes of their communities’ poverty and work toward lasting promise.

Here, and on the LWR blog, we share just a few of the ways LWR, and you, empower rural women around the world.

Yissa Kossogué

Isa Kassogué is president of a federation of women shallot producers working to grow their income by growing their crop yields.

Gardens Sprung Forth From Rocks

By Nikki Massie

The history of shallots in Mali’s Dogon plateau is as old as the plateau itself. But the women farmers who grow shallots here to support their families have faced many hardships.

“We used to carry our shallots on our heads to market and stay all day. Even if they sold we didn’t make much money,” says Domei Guindo, a farmer and president of her village women’s association.

To improve their income, the women needed better land to farm and better ways to store their crops. Only a small portion of the plateau can be farmed and the men often reserved the best of it for their crops, leaving women with small, difficult plots that typically produced one modest harvest a year. Without proper storage, the women had to sell their crops right after harvest, when markets were flooded and prices were lowest.

LWR and partner YA-G-TU, a women’s promotion association, are working to change that.

With training in better post-harvest crop handling, a new storage facility and improved irrigation, women are now seeing their incomes grow as their crop yields double and even triple. YA-G-TU is also linking women with financial institutions where they can get small loans to further improve their income.

With these funds, the women are making investments in the future — supporting their families, sending their children to school and even seeking out education for themselves.

Seeing their progress, the men are more supportive, making more land available to the women. Neighboring villages have taken notice as well. The project began in just four villages and now includes 14!

And these entrepreneurial women are just getting started. Isa Kassogué, president of the federation of village women's associations, recently told our staff, “The next time you come back, everywhere that you see stone and rocks now, there will be a garden.”

Nikki Massie is LWR’s Staff Writer

Your support of LWR helps empower women around the world. Learn how:

  • Self-help groups in India have helped women reclaim their names
  • An LWR project in Colombia is giving women a voice in the face of conflict
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