The contribution of women in the agricultural sector cannot be overemphasized. They are invaluable in our food system but they are plagued with specific challenges associated with the environment (cultural norms).

One of these challenges is access and control of agricultural resources. Up till now, in many communities women cannot own land of their own as a result of gender bias motivated by patriarchy gatekeepers. In places where women can buy land, they are required to bring a "male figure" as a guarantor and such land is handed over directly to the "male figure". In addition, in the decision making process, women's opinions are taken lightly or in many cases, women don't contribute to such decisions (if included). This is a result of the culture of silence still existing amongst us. These and many challenges have contributed to gender blind interventions that negate the real needs of the women actors in the agricultural value chains over the years.

Therefore, we need to transit into a new era of growth and development where gender barriers are lifted through information. We need to assess our unconscious bias and move through the different stages (passing appropriate gender lenses and gender sensitive information) to become unconsciously unbiased in order to genuinely embrace inclusion in our food system. We cannot grow the agricultural sector without the inclusion of women, that is, actively participating in all decision making processes and having access and full control over agricultural resources.

When we are genuinely committed to women's inclusion, it improves the productivity of our food system, strengthens resilience and more farmers enjoy shared prosperity. To inspire inclusion is not just a day’s slogan but a legacy that can spring more generations to full actualization of food and economic security if we truly live by it. We cannot continue a system that downplays the efforts of women nor a system that increases the real cost of food for women farmers. No one gets the rewards as we all become victims of such a system. Thus, we need to stand together to fight against it by embracing true inclusion.

Today, I am more committed to inspiring inclusion in all my activities with farmers in Africa!

Happy International Women's Day to all women in the agricultural sector!