Suzan, Randa and, Nagla are women farmers living in Egypt that face the Crop Gap. A program by CARE called “She Feeds the World” is aiming to change that by empowering small-scale women farmers through training and education. Focused on improving food security and nutrition, the program is empowering women around the world to help create positive changes for their families and communities.
Empowering women farmers with knowledge and resources
Suzan Salah Mahmoud, 32, is a single mother living in El-Fashn village, Beni Suef, Egypt. Following a divorce and the death of her father, Suzan is the sole breadwinner for her mother and son, Haitham.
Although she has a degree in literature, Suzan is unable to find a job in her area that reflects her level of education. She occasionally works with her brother collecting crops on a small piece of land they inherited from their father. However, women performing field work is still uncommon in her village and, with her son and mother to support, Suzan has started to work jobs filtering and packaging crops to supplement her income.
The local community development association helped her get a job in filtering and packaging, but the seasonal nature of the work and unsteady income paired with her lack of knowledge about agriculture, especially the filtering and packaging sector, limit Suzan’s capacity to earn enough to properly support her family.
Many women in the area are in a similar position as Suzan. In Egypt, like much of the world, farming and related work in the agriculture industry are traditionally associated with men.
“I think experience and training would help you gain more money. They can force others to appreciate you financially,” Suzan says.
Through the “She Feeds the World” program, CARE and PepsiCo are empowering women like Suzan with education and resources to make agriculture more inclusive, unlocking the possibility of increasing global crop yields by 20-30% – potentially reducing the number of hungry people in the world by 100-150 million, while promoting shared prosperity in communities around the world.
Nutrition education for the next generation
Randa Abdel-Moneim, 32, is a married mother of three – Salma, Youssef, and Sama. Her husband works as a plumber.
“I have been a housewife for nine years. I don’t know much about the outside world,” Randa says. She works seasonally filtering and packaging crops to help with the household expenses.
The double burden of malnutrition, when the lack of a nutritious diet can cause both undernutrition and obesity, is prevalent in many middle-income countries, especially those in the Middle East and North Africa region. This phenomenon is common in Egypt. Knowledge about nutrition in rural communities is especially weak.
“In the countryside, our children don’t eat well. But we provide what we can afford,” Randa says.
Proper early nutrition for toddlers and infants is important to avoid allergies, diseases and health problems in the future.
“A child’s body is built at a young age,” says Randa. As a mother of three, she is deeply interested in learning more about nutrition to ensure her children grow up as healthy as possible.
CARE and PepsiCo have partnered to raise awareness about nutrition through the “She Feeds the World” program, launching interactive nutritional classes for parents, especially women in targeted rural communities.
Growing opportunities through local savings groups
Nagla Hussein Abdel-Kader, a mother of four, and her husband cultivate their land together. Living in Sedment EL-Gabal village, Beni- Suef, Egypt, she has recently joined the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in her village to help grow her family’s farm and secure their financial future.
VSLAs are groups of 15 to 20 members who put their savings together. The groups offer members, particularly women, a safe way to save money and access loans outside the official banking system. Members use their loans to invest in a wide variety of activities including farming, businesses, and school fees.
“Work is never a shame. But, sometimes, capital can be a real obstacle,” Nagla says.
Access to capital is one of the main challenges faced by women in developing countries. CARE introduced the first VSLA in Niger in 1991. These groups have been incredibly successful around the world, helping millions of women, their families and communities thrive. Nagla is among the many women who have reaped the benefits of the program.
“I was able to pay my daughter’s school fees. I can save money for emergencies,” she says.
Through “She Feeds the World,” CARE and PepsiCo have partnered to help create more opportunities for women farmers and their families to secure economic and material support.