MEDA Blog

Women Feeding Communities: Celebrating GROW on World Food Day

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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.

Mariam is a soybean farmer who helps to support a household of seven people. Mariam joined the GROW project in 2014 and is a member of the farmer group, Nimodongo meaning “one voice.”

Prior to joining GROW, it was very difficult for Mariam to get fresh vegetables in her community during the dry season. Her community did not have a proper dam to allow irrigation for their crops. She had to travel to the nearby market, which would take at least 30 minutes by car. The journey along the bumpy road to the market does not provide public transit, making it harder for individuals to reach their destination.

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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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#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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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?

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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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Meet the women growing soybeans and progress in northern Ghana

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Agro-entrepreneurs. An intriguing word for those like myself entering the business world and being enthralled by realities of nonstop work-education. So far today, I have been talking to 12 agro-entrepreneurs on the four-hour bus ride through stark Sahel countryside in northern Ghana, and I have come upon a meaning for this word. For these women, today, and everyday, it means: leader remade. Meet the GROW women: 12 Lead-Farmers who represent over 20,000 women agro-entrepreneurs who have chosen to remake their gruelling hours tilling the fields to work to their benefit - and in the process, revolutionize the idea of the women business leader.

I feel bonded to these remarkable business leaders through our collaborations on the GROW project. The acronym stands for Greater Rural Opportunities for Women and today we ride to the city of Tamale for the 2016 Annual Pre-Season Conference: a semi-annual business expo for agro-entrepreneurs, equipment suppliers, soybean processors, and financial backers. As we pass anthills the height of single-storey buildings, my thoughts keep returning to how best to do something I have not yet attempted and which just so happens to be my prime task of the day: marketing for agro-entrepreneurs.

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Women as Catalysts for Change: Reflections from a former GROW intern in Ghana

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Why do you focus on women?

Over the last year, living here in Tamale, Ghana, and working with rural women farmers on our Greater Rural Opportunities for Women (GROW) project- I’ve expanded my understanding of the gender issues in northern Ghana drastically. Here, women and men face many cultural barriers, social expectations and a lack of opportunities due to poverty. In short, gender issues here are complex, messy and deeply rooted in daily routines.

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