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UN Women Executive Director visits Senegal to put women farmers at the heart of the gender equality agenda

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UN Women Executive Director visits Senegal to put women farmers at the heart of the gender equality agenda

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka begins today an official visit to Senegal, to highlight the importance women’s economic empowerment in the agricultural sector, encourage the repeal of discriminatory laws and to promote women’s leadership and political participation across the country.

Women farmers make up to 70 per cent of the workforce and produce more than 80 per cent of crops in Senegal, especially food crops. Yet, women farmers lack access to land, skills, financial resources and markets, compared to their male counterparts.

As part of her stay, the Executive Director will visit Réseau des Femmes Agricultrices du Nord, a network of women farmers of the North, who produce and trade rice. The initiative is supported by AGRIFED, UN Women’s flagship programme on women’s economic empowerment through climate resilient agriculture, which aims to empower at least of 30,000 women farmers in Senegal by 2021. Since the project started in 2017, over 10,000 women in the network have benefited from the creation of local selling points for rice distribution in Dakar and increased their sales. They have also received training on financial management and how to run and organize their businesses. Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Minister of Agriculture, and Salimata Diop Dieng, Minister of Women, Family and Gender, will join Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka for the project visit.

The Executive Director is also expected to meet with the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, the Minister of Justice, Ismaila Madior Fall, as well as the second Vice-President of the National Assembly, Awa Gueye, to advocate for increased political participation of women.  In 2010, Senegal adopted a law which requires political parties to ensure that at least half their candidates in local and national elections are women. While the law increased the number of women elected at the national level in the July 2012 legislative elections, gender gaps persist in other decision-making bodies. Discussions are expected to include implementation efforts of a new law that calls for increased allocation of public procurement spending to women entrepreneurs.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka will engage with young women entrepreneurs and interact with representatives from civil society organizations during this visit. She will be accompanied by Jaha Dukureh, Regional UN Women Ambassador for Africa and activist, who focuses her efforts on ending child marriage and female genital mutilation.