Agriterra trained 14 strong willed female (future) leaders in the first ever ‘Female Leadership in Agricultural Cooperatives Masterclass’, held in Kenya. The group is composed of Zambian, Ugandese and Kenyan participants, representing organisations that are active in coffee, dairy, sunflower or credit and saving.
Main purpose of the masterclass is to strengthen the leadership skills of these women. These highly motivated cooperative leaders return full of energy and ambitions back to their respective cooperatives, better equipped to take up their leadership roles and make a change contributing to closing the gender gap in agricultural cooperatives.
Powerwoman 11: Norah Asio Ebukalin from PKWI farmer to farmer cooperative
Norah is the general secretary of the board of the PKWI farmer to farmer cooperative in Uganda as well as the owner of a sunflower oil processing business. Norah is a widow with 5 children and several grandchildren. She has her own farm that she is still working on.
She is the first born of her father’s second wife. When she was a teenager, her father died, and she took care of her mother and brothers. She did the household chores while her two younger brothers went to school. She started giving Sunday school lessons in her church and got some remuneration for that. She used the money to continue her secondary education and pursued a teacher diploma after that. However, her husband did not allow her to work as a teacher and she started farming.
In those years there was a serious insurgency in Uganda, and a lot of women had to take care of their children on their own. This is when, in 1993, Norah founded PKWI together with 12 women, to support each other and overcome the challenges. She further improved her farming skills and got elected as best farmer. Norah had various opportunities to travel abroad, representing small farmers in national and international forums. PKWI has grown from 12 women to more than 2500 farmers in 2019, of which 40% are men and 60% women, doing business. Norah is a role model, leads by example and is consistent and loyal. According to her, the secret to leadership is being a woman who stands by her word in spite of all manners of intimidation and unfavourable circumstances.
Norah is a strong-willed woman, who has learned how to create room for her story and point of view without doing harm to others. She is humble, but knows how to talk to others, including big leaders. She expresses her opinion in a firm and clear way that everyone understands. Despite of cultural barriers, she managed to be a woman that is heard and respected.
She uses her status and experience to coach and mentor young women. She prepares them to be good leaders in the future. She believes in collaboration and cooperation. Women should support fellow women, take up action at the right time, take up leadership positions and change their attitude towards cultural beliefs.
Norah shares her experiences as a female leadership role model in the Agriterra female leadership trainings. Women and men believe and trust her. Norah has very good qualities as a leader and her willingness to share and mentor others is a great asset.
It was great to have a man facilitating the female leadership masterclass. Next time let us invite some men from cooperatives to attend on the third day!