The first Ethiopian Female Food Heroes Award gave prizes to 11 women from different regions of the country on Friday December 7, 2012 at the Sheraton Hotel.
Organized by Together for a Food Secure Ethiopia (TFSE) initiative in collaboration with Forum for Environment (FfE), the award event is planned to be held annually.
“Around 85 percent of Ethiopian women work on small agricultural activities and are found in rural areas. Their income is totally based on these small scale agricultural activities. 50 percent of the country’s food production and 70 percent of family scale food production is done by women,” said Tefera Derbew, Minister of Agriculture.
The TFSE initiative explores and unveils the challenges that rural women food producers face in accessing agricultural inputs, land and financial and extension services. The aim of the award is said to contribute to a wider recognition of small-scale women food producers through acknowledging and awarding their efforts towards the growing of more food in an equitable and sustainable way.
“Our constitution clearly states that men and women are equal and they should economically benefit equally. But because of some challenges especially in the agriculture sector, equal benefit hasn’t been achieved. We have to work hard in improving that,” said Tefera.
The eleven finalists were chosen among 200 women on the criteria of having improved their household food security within the past five years while engaging in both farming and non-farming activities, who demonstrated proven innovations in addressing several challenges like drought, who registered increment in yield per hectare or animal, who used improved storage techniques to reduce post-harvest losses and who have been active agents of change in their community.
Those who got first, second and third place received 50,000 birr, 25,000 birr and 17,500 birr respectively while the remaining participants received 5,000 birr each.
The Central Statistics Agency (CSA) in 2011 stated that in Ethiopia agriculture contributes about 45 percent to the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generates 90 percent of export earnings. According to a case study done by Oxfam, women spend about 14 hours doing domestic and productive activities compared to the 10 hours spent by men.