October 11th is International Day of the Girl Child. Today we celebrate our Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers and recognize how they have empowered thousands of women to become more knowledgeable and skilled agriculture professionals. Winrock’s volunteers work to build the skills of women and men through training in agriculture entrepreneurship, agriculture technologies and production techniques, soft skills including pedagogy, organizational development, research, and curriculum development, and much more. Through the Asia Farmer-to-Farmer and Farmer-to-Farmer for Agriculture Education and Training Programs, Winrock volunteers have collectively trained over 5,260 women and girls since October 2013.
One F2F volunteer, Neelam Canto-lugo, trained 65 young women in Nepal through the Women Development Advocacy Center (WDAC). Her trainings were focused on proposal writing, communication and leadership skills, and workforce preparedness skills for entrepreneurship in the field of agriculture and others. Ms. Canto-lugo shares her thoughts, “I’m thoroughly amazed at the challenges and struggles faced by women and youth in rural areas of Nepal in terms of lack of effective education and employment opportunities. At the same time, I am impressed by their kindness, hospitality, and above all, resilience. I am fortunate to have met so many outstanding young women, volunteers, and educational leaders whose goals are to help others on their way to social and economic success. I am also extremely impressed by the brilliance and sharp focus displayed by the female participants. They are serious, hardworking, and very mature; however, they need lots of opportunities to progress and make their mark in society.”
In Bangladesh, F2F volunteer, Peter Flanagan provided targeted training to 41 goat farmers (39 women) who supplement their family income with the sale of goats destined for the meat market. The host for the assignment, Satkhira Unnayan Sangstha (SUS), was interested in training experienced female goat owners in addition to young female entrepreneurs on fundamental goat husbandry as well as introducing practical ways to improve upon current practices. Mr. Sk. Eman Ali, Founder and Executive Director of SUS remarked, “I hope his training will help them to run goat farming more successfully. SUS will provide enough loans to the training participants if they want to expand their goat rearing business.”
In Myanmar, F2F volunteer, Marie Laurent, trained over 60 women within Shwe Inn Thu and Shwe Danu Self Help Groups in how to use locally available agriculture products to make craft soap. They have subsequently trained over 600 individuals (majority women) in how to make these products. Ms. Laurent noted after the trainings, “I am so pleased to see the soaps the women groups made since after I left last time. Some of them already have their soap brand. They showed their talent in group performance. With very rich resources, I am sure they will start this new business soon and earn more money to reduce poverty. So, I am very happy to work with and to help these women groups.” Daw Aye Ngwe, treasurer of the Ngwe Taung Yoe Women Self-Help Group, attended the training and expressed (with wet eyes), “ I attended only until Grade 5, only passed primary school. I have attended many trainings, but this hands-on training I liked the most. Only classroom training cannot help us. In this training, explanations were well done with useful information, more importantly, the teacher showed us how to make soap practically, which I could practice at home. I enjoyed discussing which herbals we have in our village and the teacher told us which herbals can be used to make soap. This year with unfavorable climate, we were very depressed because our crop production and prices were very low and thus created a difficult situation for our living. This training showed how we can use local products to make value-added products and earn money. I could say it is one valuable water drop when we are so thirsty.”
Thank you to Ms. Canto-lugo, Mr. Flanagan, Ms. Laurent, and all of our Winrock volunteers who help to support women’s empowerment and advancement through skills-based training!