122 women supported in land reform enterprise in Hazyview

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The commemoration of Women’s Month has once again shone the spotlight on the challenges that hinder the development of women in the agricultural sector. Despite these challenges, a community of women farmers benefiting from the Giba Communal Property Association (CPA) land reform program in Hazyview, have overcome these obstacles and have already created 122 jobs for women in the agricultural sector.

These women farmers have bucked the trend of barriers outlined in the Quarterly Labor Force Survey (QLFS) Quarter 1 of 2022, which revealed that black African women are the most vulnerable, with an unemployment rate of 40.6% .

According to association secretary Zelda Maseko, the capitalized agricultural area comprising bananas, avocados, macadamias and other high-value orchards, employs 256 people who come from communities adjacent to the farm.

“The majority of workers here are women. This is our intervention to directly empower women in the region. We also produce ginger, and for this part of the product, 100 part-time workers were employed. Our view is that women can play an important role in agriculture and, as beneficiaries of land reform, we have been able to establish partnerships that have enabled us to make use of this land. Similar initiatives can significantly reduce unemployment gaps in communities and improve job opportunities and skills for more women,” Maseko said.

The CPA owes part of its success to the interventions carried out by the Vumelana Advisory Fund, a non-profit organization which helps the beneficiaries of the agrarian reform program to develop their land in an effective and sustainable way.

Commenting on the reported widespread failure of many land reform programs, Maseko, who has worked for Giba’s CPA for three years, said: “It is a futile exercise to allocate land to people, especially agricultural land, without supplementing that with training on how to use it productively. Land allocation must first be preceded by training, and financial support is just as important. Communities should be encouraged to form cooperatives and given funding to get started. Second, more women should be roped in and helped to set up markets for their produce.

Despite the success they have had in maintaining the productivity of the plaintiffs’ land, Maseko said APC still faces structural and cultural challenges.

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“As long as stereotypes persist that women cannot hold certain positions, equal representation will remain a dream. To address this, the reform process must become more inclusive and provide full and equal opportunities for men and women. Women should have the opportunity to become farm managers and human resource personnel, instead of being relegated to the periphery or confined only to administrative roles.

“Our communities are still not committed to harnessing the potential of women in agriculture in management roles. There is always a bias towards men. There needs to be a good sharing of skills with women, and this could be done through interventions such as intensive trainings and regular workshops.

The agricultural sector has an important role to play in eradicating unemployment and improving the skills of women. However, the industry is constrained by patriarchal practices that prevent it from reaching its full potential.

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“Our land reform process could play a significant role in eradicating poverty and unemployment, especially for women in previously disadvantaged communities. In our committees and our associations, we must ensure that we strike a balance with regard to equal representation. Certainly, a lot has been achieved in the sector, but there is still a lot to be done to uplift women. We would like to see land reform create more opportunities for our community, especially for our women,” Maseko said.

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