By Guido Guerra, senior analyst
The cooperative Abadatezuka Ku Kirayi is a Rwandan primary cooperative of Irish potato farmers located in Musanze, north Rwanda. About half the members of the cooperative are women, but men consider themselves smarter and quicker making decisions, and do not give space to women in the decision-making process.
That is why Agriterra invited Abadatezuka to participate in a female leadership training held in February 2020, with the intervention of the local Agripooler Césarie Kantarama, chairwoman of Ingabo, a major Rwandan farmer organisation which represents more than 20,000 farmers, showcasing a female leader example to all the participants.
As a result of the female leadership training Abadatezuka defined a strategy to recruit new female members, train all women in leadership skills and set up a women’s council over the next months. They wanted the women’s council to work as a platform where women can raise their voice and build self-confidence when it comes to leadership.
Unluckily, a month after the training, the COVID-19 crisis hit the country and paralised all planned activities. Thus, only half the women planned were trained on leadership skills, few female members were recruited and, although the women council was established by five pioneer women, it could not operate due to the social distancing measures and was dismantled.
Nevertheless, the women’s council regained momentum before a follow-up female leadership training performed by Agriterra in November 2021. Fortuitously, the annual general meeting took place the last week of October, a few days before the training began, which stimulated the (re)establishment of the women’s council. As a result, during the follow-up training, performed by a local business advisor with the support of the Dutch intern Esmee Van Schuppen from Wageningen University, Abadatezuka defined the purpose of the recently (re)elected women’s council as the platform to motivate, mobilise and represent women farmers inside the cooperative.