What is International Womens Day?
The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world. Shared Interest provides finance to fair trade businesses in over 50 countries. Managing Director Patricia Alexander shares with us the challenges facing communities, and how women across the world have been impacted.
“There is no doubt that the pandemic has touched the lives of each one of us. In terms of trade, Covid-19 restrictions have caused substantial disruption to supply chains and the global economy, though the true impact of the second wave may not be evident for months to come.
“However, we know from information provided by the World Health Organization that the impact of Covid-19 on women and girls is profound. In Africa, women have been disproportionately affected, by not only lockdown restrictions but also access to healthcare.
“A World Bank report shows that informal workers, most of whom are women, account for more than 90% of the labour force in sub-Saharan Africa, and these are the jobs particularly at risk.
How does Shared Interest help?
“Shared Interest provides finance to farming and handcraft co-operatives so that they are able to provide a stable income for workers. We know that our finance supported over 350,000 individuals last year and over a third were women.
“In Africa, the percentage of women in leadership roles remains low but there is a growing movement, in the coffee sector in particular, to empower women to grow and market their own products.
“Bukonzo Organic Farmers Co-operative Union (BOCU) in Uganda is one of the few coffee co-operatives in Africa to be managed by women. General Manager, Josinta Kabugho is keen to support community initiatives, and when farmers were affected by Covid-19, she made the decision to distribute food supplies, using funds from the co-operative’s Fairtrade Premium.
“As a large coffee co-operative, Bukonzo supports the livelihoods of over 1,200 farmers. Unfortunately, when Josinta next contacted us, the co-operative needed urgent aid after severe flooding hit their village and the surrounding area. Heavy rainfall had caused five rivers to burst their banks. Over 35,000 people were displaced including Bukonzo members and their families.
“Again, Josinta responded to the needs of her community, and fortunately our charity, Shared Interest Foundation, was able to support Bukonzo, providing food and shelter for farmers, and additional help for pregnant women and children. Some had lost everything in the floods and were sleeping in schools and churches.
“Before Bukonzo members can rebuild their farms, they not only fight the ongoing threat of Covid-19, but also the water-related diseases that follow this type of flooding. We spoke to Josinta recently about her co-operative’s continued fortitude and determination to support her community, and she said: “We want to be part of the people supporting those in need.”
“Josinta is just one example of the inspirational women leading businesses or communities through the pandemic and beyond. This week, we will be sharing more stories of female empowerment on our website and social media channels as we celebrate the achievements of women worldwide.”