Advancing Women in Agribusiness: UN Women’s Summit Addresses Gender Disparities in Uganda

Uganda possesses a substantial agricultural workforce, with approximately 3.9 million women contributing to the sector in 7 million agricultural households according to UN Women Uganda. However, a notable gender disparity prevails, as many of these women are primarily involved in on-farm production, with limited participation in vital agribusiness activities such as processing, warehousing, distribution, packaging, branding, and marketing. This gender gap in agribusiness activities incurs a substantial cost, estimated at US$67-100 million annually, constituting around 20–30 percent of GDP across Sub-Saharan African countries.

Acknowledging the urgency to address this disparity, UN Women Uganda took a proactive approach by organizing the Source of the Nile Women in Agribusiness Summit and Expo from January 15th to 16th, 2024. This transformative event aimed to cultivate partnerships that could enhance the status of women farmers and entrepreneurs. Aligned with the 19th Non-Aligned Movement, the summit provided a distinctive platform for over sixty women entrepreneurs to showcase their diverse products across various agribusiness value chains.

Esteemed guests, including high-level policymakers such as Hon. Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development, and Hellen Adoa, the Minister of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, graced the summit. The collaboration between these ministries, UN Women, and the NAM National Organizing Committee underscored the importance of addressing gender disparities in agribusiness.

In support of this mission, the UN Women’s Country Office has compiled a comprehensive catalog of Women in Business, serving as a valuable networking tool.

During the event’s inauguration, Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women Uganda Country Representative, emphasized the opportunity for women in agribusiness to present their enterprises to key investors. However, she also underscored the imperative to address barriers hindering women’s meaningful engagement in the sector.

The expo provided a unique platform for women in agribusiness to engage in investment pitches with private sector investors, local companies, and policymakers. Discussions focused on addressing challenges such as accessing affordable credit, adapting to severe weather conditions, reducing reliance on sunlight for post-harvest protection, countering exploitation by middlemen, and mitigating the time and labor burdens associated with manual land cultivation. The emphasis extended to empowering women to tap into domestic, regional, and international markets.

Dr. Maxime Houinato, UN Women Regional Director for ESARO, highlighted the transformative potential of the event, emphasizing the need to document and share success stories to inspire women across Africa. Minister Betty Amongi stressed the importance of supporting women’s transition from informal to formal sectors by addressing the challenges they face.

Minister Hellen Adoa, responsible for fisheries, underscored the critical role of women in agriculture and encouraged the adoption of ICT to enhance the sale of agricultural products, further emphasizing the need for innovation and inclusivity in the sector.

The summit, slated to become an annual event, aims to foster collaboration among women in agribusiness, investors, and government stakeholders. This strategic gathering seeks to ideate and implement solutions to the myriad challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in the sector. In furtherance of this mission, the UN Women’s Country Office has compiled a comprehensive catalog of Women in Business, serving as a valuable tool for networking and connecting women with potential investors, markets, and business partners

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