MEDA Blog

Bringing Rural Cooking to the City

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GROW women farmers had until Tuesday July 31 of this year to purchase new technology from the GROW technology fund. This fund gives them access to purchase machinery and supplies which will make them more effective, efficient and safe farmers at an affordable price. Some of the inventory they have been able to choose from were:

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Life Transformation: The Journey of a Sales Agent

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To mark World Food Day (October 16, 2018), MEDA is sharing impact stories collected from our projects in the field. These stories highlight how MEDA is addressing food security in the area of economic development.

Damata is a one of GROW’s Lead Farmers. She is widowed with seven children. Following the death of her husband, Damata wanted her children to continue to attend school, despite the pressures of being the family’s sole provider and caregiver. “My children’s education is my business,” she stated.

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Why economic empowerment creates a world where #EveryoneBenefits

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To mark Canada's first Gender Equality Week 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the fourth installment of our #EveryoneBenefits blog series. Learn why leadership opportunities creates a world where #EveryoneBenefits. 

Women make up 43% of the agricultural workforce around the world. Although women make an essential contribution to agriculture, they lack the same resources as men. This limits their ability to provide for their families and contribute to the global economy. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, “If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%, raising the total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5-4%. Such an increase in food production could lift 150 million people out of hunger.” This means that 150 million people are hungry simply because women are not included in food production or the global economy. 

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#EveryoneBenefits from Productive Land Access

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To mark Canada's first Gender Equality Week 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the third installment of our #EveryoneBenefits blog series. Learn why land tenure creates a world where #EveryoneBenefits. 

Have you ever enjoyed a piece of delicious, aromatic chocolate purchased in Canada? If so, its likely that chocolate was comprised of tasty cocoa imported from Ghana [1]. As chocolate lovers around the globe continue to multiply, so does the cocoa supply chain. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are two of the world’s largest cocoa-growing countries [2] and they supply cocoa to chocolate giants, such as Hershey’s and Nestle [3].

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Continuing the Discussion: GROW Works with Regional House of Chiefs to Promote Women’s Access to Land in Ghana

GROW land eventMeeting with the Regional House of ChiefsOn Monday July 9th, the GROW project supported the Regional House of Chiefs of the Upper West Region in conducting a Land Tenure Advocacy Meeting hosted by the House of Chiefs. As a GROW staff member, I witnessed firsthand the momentous occasion of 26 Chiefs and 25 Queen Mothers coming together on a Monday morning specifically to discuss increasing land rights in the Upper West region.

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Saving for Good: Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) on the GROW Project

VSLAThe perception that microfinance is improving the lives of low income families has been a hot topic among development professionals for the last decade. There are many debates and arguments in the media about whether microfinance has positive or negative impacts on the livelihoods of economically disadvantaged communities. There is no one right answer to this question. It all depends on the institution’s mission and purpose. In fact, there are various financial services providers who have been part of the movement for all these years, some for social reasons some for profit.
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Building peace through entrepreneurship

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There are more similarities between farming and selling books than you might think.

Entrepreneurs all over the world are providing for their families and communities as they design, launch and run their businesses. With dedication and passion for their work, they build capacity, instill agency and create a robust economy.

This happens all over the world every day.

 

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Discussing gender equality with families and communities: MEDA’s Male Gender Activists

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To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the third in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

Globally, gender inequality remains one of the fundamental challenges of the 21st century. Despite awareness about the importance of women empowerment growing globally, women are still economically, socially and politically routinely disenfranchised. Even though women often become the main or sole supporter of their households, men continue to dominate decisions at the household level which has caused increased poverty and lack of independence for women.

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#TimeisNow but GROW has been working for years

To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the first in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

IWD1GROW client, Rahama, selling her soya kebabs to MEDA staff

It is an exciting time for women around the globe with awareness of women’s rights activism on the rise through movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo bringing attention to overlooked harassment and treatment of women in the workplace. Additionally, it is an especially exciting time for rural Ghanaian women partaking in MEDA’s GROW program. Considering the United Nation’s International Women's Day (8 March) theme “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women's lives”, MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women project (GROW) has been doing just that in the Upper Western Region of Ghana.

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Increasing Women's Access to Land: Committing to Change

PostEvent1Attendees at MEDA's Agricultural Land Tenure Forum in Wa, GhanaNovember 18th, 2017, marked a milestone for MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women project (GROW). Together, Chiefs, Queen Mothers, landowners, community leaders, GROW’s Lead Farmers, Key Facilitating Partners (KFPs), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Women in Agricultural Development, Male Gender Activists (MGAs) and opinion leaders met in Wa, Ghana to discuss the key land tenure issues for women. This event catalyzed a public discussion on the importance of land tenure for women and its impact on sustainable economic empowerment, resource management and food security. To read more about the background of this event, and why land tenure matters for women, visit this blog.

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Increasing Women’s Access to Land: Advancing the Conversation

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*Update! To read about the results from MEDA's Agricultural Land Tenure Forum, visit this blog*.

On Saturday, November 18th, 2017, MEDA’s GROW project (Greater Rural Opportunities for Women) will be hosting a Land Tenure Forum in Wa, Ghana. The goal of this event is to bring together opinion leaders to discuss the issues surrounding land tenure for women. Attendees include Chiefs and Queen Mothers, landowners, GROW’s Lead Farmers, Key Facilitating Partners (KFPs), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Women in Agricultural Development, and various community members. A well-informed advocate on formalized land agreements will facilitate the event and lead the discussion on the importance of land ownership for women, and its sustainable impact on economic empowerment in GROW communities.

MEDA is very excited for this Forum as it is an important step towards promoting land rights for GROW women. Women in Ghana’s Upper West Region understand that the return on investment into their small plots of land is lost with constant changes from one plot to another.

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Interview with a development worker: GROW's Karen Walsh

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Katie West: Let’s start with something easy. What is GROW?

Karen Walsh: GROW is a food security program that is looking at changing the lives of over 20,000 women and their families. The goal is to provide consistent access to food throughout the year – in every season.

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Two women, eight teams trekking for women in Ghana

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Two adventurous women are trekking Ontario’s 900-km Bruce Trail in July in support of women farmers involved in MEDA’s Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project in Ghana.

GROW focuses on improving food security for families in Northern Ghana by assisting women farmers to grow more soybeans and forge market links that will increase incomes.

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World Water Day: Opportunities to Innovate and Address Time Poverty for Women




World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about taking action to tackle the water crisis.

One of my first experiences with global inequality was related to water. In a remote part of the Maasai Mara in Kenya, I met mothers and daughters who were obligated to make an arduous and long walk to the river, daily, to collect dirty water and carry it alone back to the homestead to prepare meals, bathe, clean, wash laundry, garden and nourish livestock. This story is not an anomaly. The world over, rural women and girls often bear the burden of collecting water for their families. Globally, it is estimated that women and girls collectively spend 200 million hours every day, or individually 6 hours a day, fetching water. In terms of distance, in Africa and Asia, it is estimated that girls and children walk an average 3.7 miles a day to fetch water.1  As a result, women and girls are at a higher risk of violence and health hazards due to isolation along rural routes, issues related to menstruation and women’s hygiene, along with heightened exposure to diseases found in unclean water.2

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An Easy Sell? Women's Economic Empowerment in Ghana

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Empowering women in rural, northern Ghana—where nearly 80% of women have never attended school, is no small feat. With some smart marketing and production support for farmers, agribusinesses are now buying the idea.

Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) is a six-year project funded by both the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The main goal of the project is to improve food security for families in the Upper West Region of Ghana by assisting women farmers to increase productivity, link to sustainable markets, and improve nutrition practices.

The implementation of the GROW project started in 2013 with a goal of reaching 20,000 women farmers using a value chain approach. Through a mixed methods data gathering approach including interviews and surveys, MEDA recently developed and published a case study that examines the role of market actors and their profitability as they have engaged with the GROW project and female farmers. This blog shares some of the results.

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What does International Women’s Day mean to me?

Through the Garden Gate Afghanistan
To mark International Women’s Day 2017, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the third in our “Be Bold for Change” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

Catherine Sobrevega (center) in Afghanistan, with her previous MEDA’s project, Through the Garden Gate, in Afghanistan.

I always look forward to International Women’s Day (IWD) as it is celebrated differently in form and structure worldwide. In the Philippines, where I am from, I cannot remember any celebration that I have been part of. I am sure there is an IWD celebration somewhere, but it is mostly celebrated by women’s right activist groups — not by ordinary people or companies. This is likely because men and women treat one another equally. I grew up knowing that there is no difference between us – all of us can go to school, all of us have access to information and opportunities.

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An intern's journey home in Ghana

Learning the ropes to get around the capital Accra has been an interesting and rewarding experience. In a city that only recently started naming its streets, the locals still rely on landmarks, prominent buildings, and well-known spots. There’s something very rewarding about learning the name of an area, like you’re finally getting to know the city and the people. More importantly, it lets you communicate with the taxis and tro-tros.

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How one small business can change the lives of many

As the Business Development Intern on the FEATS project in Ghana, I had the opportunity to help an entrepreneur start a cashew aggregation business that will improve the lives of 250+ farmers and the lives of their families and communities. I supported this entrepreneur by developing the business strategy and operational plan to successfully and sustainably start his small business. In the process, I have learned a lot about the farming value chain and the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and farmers in a developing country like Ghana.

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MSC Capacity Building





From August 26 to September 1, GROW’s communications team was busy visiting the offices of all our Key Facilitating Partner organizations in order to facilitate a refresher training and capacity building discussion on MSCs. MSC is short for Most Significant Change stories, and is MEDA’s version of a client success story. The template features three main sections: relevant background of client, change the client is reporting and why the change is significant to him/her. Basically it’s one of the ways we collect qualitative (or narrative data) and it allows us to track the project’s success on an individual basis. In addition to individual stories, a few are tracked over the life of the project in order to provide a complete view of the impact.Me with GROW’s team at ProNet after our MSC discussion

KFPs are required to submit stories quarterly, and, currently, we have over 40 stories in our catalogue that highlight diverse project areas including conservation agriculture, gender, farming as a business, our value chain partners, technology adoption and financial literacy, among others. Last year, the KFPs all attended a training session on MSCs conducted by GROW’s Senior M&E Manager from HQ and its former in-country M&E Manager. Story quality definitely improved after this workshop and they have been gaining more and more traction, even over the eight months I’ve been in the country. Stories were shared by the KFPs at our annual PAC meeting, they are included in our Annual Report, shared with our donor and partners, appear on our social media feeds, are included in GROW and MEDA fundraising appeals and requested by other managers from HQ for various other purposes.

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Upper East Adventure (Pt. 2)

On our last morning, we visited the village of Tongo Hills and the nearby Tengzug Shrine. In order to go inside the community, we had to pay a fee and ask the chief himself for permission to enter his palace and take pictures. He was an older gentleman who looked a bit like a professor with his round glasses and white hair. He was reclining on cushions on his throne where we introduced ourselves and shook his hand. The chief has 23 wives, about 150 children and there are about 350 people who live in his compound. Tradition dictates the buildings are not allowed to have thatch roofs and are made completely of mud, with flat roofs where people sleep outside during the warm season.

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