The impact of empowering women farmers towards sustainable agriculture in the Gauteng province of South Africa

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Thobejane, Mamatime Kholofelo
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University of the Free State
Despite the South African Constitution emphasising values and gender equality; most women continue to face barriers and commercial restrictions that limit their participation in the mainstream economy. As a result, methods must be devised by the sector to determine whether the policies and strategies they invested in for gender mainstreaming, which were intended to build more equitable, empowering, sustainable and inclusive societies, are effective and producing the desired results. Due to a lack of gender-disaggregated data, women's roles in agriculture and, thus, their opportunities and constraints need to be better understood. This study aimed to quantify the impact of women's empowerment on sustainable agriculture. Even though the Department of Agriculture has been implementing the women empowerment project since 1999, the literature findings show that the impact of agriculture on empowering women in the sector cannot be quantified. The sector's eligibility to request assistance is gender neutral. Descriptive research methodology was used for this study, and quantitative data were collected in the MS Excel package and statistically analysed using the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) and Agricultural Integrated Survey (AGRIS). Additionally, the study applied a Logical Framework Analysis (LFA) for problem analysis and translating the causes and effects of the problems that women farmers face into objectives and future strategies. Respondents were farmers who share a common domain category of being classified as commercial farmers. Only those farmers who were classified as commercial farmers who qualified for the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD's) commercialisation programme and benefited from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Female Entrepreneur Awards (DAFF FEA) programme were eligible to participate in the study. Except for the time domain, access to, and decisions about credit indicators, this study found that sufficiency in the production, leadership, assets, income, and time usage categories was more closely associated with empowerment than demographic variables. Within this study, 91% of women and 81% of men reported feeling empowered. The domain in the sample that contributes the most to women's disempowerment, according to the deconstruction of the disempowerment measure, is time. The areas of empowerment that contribute the most to male disempowerment are time (workload) and resources (access to and credit decisions). Under the sub-indicators biodiversity, profitability, and resilience, female and male participants in Gauteng are unsustainable on the environmental and economic dimensions. Furthermore, the study's findings evaluated the practitioners' willingness to examine and discuss gender issues. The findings revealed that 44% of practitioners have a high willingness to explore gender issues and 86% of practitioners were unable to discuss gender issues. This study also proposed developing a gender policy as a starting point to direct the sector to incorporate the gender dimension into pertinent policies and strategies rather than addressing gender through a separate and isolated process. The inclusion of gender budgeting and sex-disaggregated data administration must be referenced in this policy, which serves as the guiding principle for all programmes, initiatives, and action plans. Effective collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data are critical to ensuring women are empowered to participate in all aspects of the economy. By doing so, we improve our chances of strengthening our country's economy and advancing the two most pressing global goals of equity and sustainability.
Thesis (Ph.D. (Sustainable Agriculture))--University of the Free State, 2022, Women empowerment, sustainable agriculture, sustainable development, equity, equality, gender, commercial farmer, gender budgeting, gender-disaggregation, mainstream economy