From where I stand: “We thought gender was only for educated people”

Modesta Mujawariya is a co-founder of a small farmer’s cooperative in Rwanda. Although she had twelve plots of land, she didn’t know the exact size of her land and how to estimate yields. The Buy from Women platform connected her to markets and information through mobile technology. One of her biggest surprises was learning about how gender equality matters in agriculture.

Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Modesta Mujawariya. Photo: UN Women/Franz Benjamin Stapelberg
Modesta Mujawariya. Photo: UN Women/ Franz Benjamin Stapelberg

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I have been a farmer for as long as I can remember. Now, a widow with two married daughters, farming is my only source of income. I work on my farm for at least eight hours a day, starting early in the morning. I don’t have much time to rest.

I helped found the (Coopcuma) cooperative, and have 12 plots registered under my name. I didn’t know the exact size of my land until I joined the Buy From Women Platform. But now I know all together my land is 0.33 Ha, and I can better estimate the amount of fertilizer needed and how much maize and beans I can produce.

We also got trained on gender. Before attending the trainings, we thought gender was only for educated people, but now we know that gender plays a role in agriculture too! We have learned how to promote equal access to farm revenue for both men and women farmers. We also learned the importance of linking with local markets and having buyers arranged in advance, with good prices.

For the longest time, my main challenge has been that my farm is far from my home. I have to walk for an hour and a half carrying fertilizers and harvest to and from the farm. But now that the Buy From Women Platform has built drying sheds near the fields, we don’t have to walk long distances carrying our produce.

I like farming because I can take care of my family. As a widow, I have managed to bring electricity and water in my home, like men did. I have even bought a cow! This year, I am planning to increase my production and make more money.”


SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

Modesta Mujawariya, 58, is a founding member of the Coopcuma Farmer’s Cooperative in Gatsibo District in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. The Coopcuma Cooperative is one of 10 cooperatives that implement UN Women and the World Food Programme’s mobile-enabled platform that aims to bridge gender equality gaps in agriculture. The platform connects small holder farmers (men and women) to the agricultural supply and value chain and provides them with critical information on weather, market prices and incoming opportunities via text messages. Mujawariya’s story relates to Sustainable Development Goal 8, which aims to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.