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Name of event: AGRA’s International Women’s day celebrations 
Date of Event: March 8, 2021 
Format of event: Virtual (GOTOWEBINAR)  
Number of persons attending: 153  
Hosting Organization: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) 
Co-organizers:  None  

Background  

The International Women’s Day 2021 was commemorated in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to affect lives and livelihoods in a proportion never imagined. The pandemic has exposed and also exacerbated the social and economic inequalities that increase the financial and health vulnerabilities of women and other less endowed members of society.  

In the agriculture and food sector in Africa, the endemic inequalities in accessing land and other agricultural resources undermine women’s capacity to respond and recover from the impact of this pandemic. These inequalities mean that women and men have different resources available for coping with and recovering from the crisis.  According to a recent UN report, the number of people facing acute food insecurity could double to 265 million by the end of 2021. 

In recognition of this challenge, yet recognizing the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Women announced the theme for the 2021 International women’s days celebration as: “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” AGRA joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Women’s Day through a virtual webinar on the 8th of March 2021. 

Webinar summary  

Attended by 153 participants, the two-hour webinar featured recognized African women leaders, who shared their experiences with and how their respective organizations can and are contributing towards women empowerment. The participants shared opinions, thoughts and questions mostly on how they can be connected with the successful women leaders for mentorship.   

The webinar was in two sessions with the first panel exploring the theme, Harnessing women’s collective and business capital for catalytic change in agriculture and food systems. This session was moderated by Vanessa Adams, Vice-President, Strategic Partnerships AGRA. In-line with the International Women’s day 2021 challenge, #ChooseToChallenge, Comfort Adjahoe-Jennings, the President of AWEP, challenged women to do what others are not willing to do and to face challenges positively because challenges make people grow.  

Ms Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of Gender, Poverty and Social policy Division, ECA added that “Integration of digital in agricultural infrastructure is the catalyst of change”.  One of the panellists Ms Fatma Ben Rejeb highlighted that women face a great deal of challenges in agriculture and agribusiness sectors from access to land, agricultural tools, finance to digital tools and has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. She added “conducive policies and strategies exist but they are not being implemented”. 

The second panel was moderated by Redi Tlhabi a South African radio and TV presenter. The session was themed “Harnessing the brand and platform of successful women leaders to create a sea of success for women in food and agriculture”. The session featured two high-level speakers, H.E Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture who delivered the keynote address and Dr Agnes Kalibata, AGRA President, UN Special Envoy on Food Systems Summit. The two speakers highlighted the efforts by their respective organizations in supporting women’s access to land, mechanization, finance, market and digital technologies.  

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