DAR ES SALAAM (July 2, 2013) — The global poverty-fighting organization CARE welcomed first lady Michelle Obama, former first lady Laura Bush, and other dignitaries to the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania. Held in Dar es Salaam today and Wednesday, the Bush Institute’s “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa” Summit highlights successful practices that have helped women in Africa achieve economic self-sufficiency.
“We’ve seen that when women have the knowledge and skills to sell what they produce, they spend their earnings on food, health care and school for their children,” says Dr. Jemimah Njuki, Global Coordinator for CARE’s Women in Agriculture program. On Tuesday, Mrs. Bush and eleven African first ladies, including Mrs. Janet Museveni of Uganda and Mrs. Roman Tesfaye of Ethiopia, attended a panel that Njuki moderated. Panel members discussed innovative strategies that give women farmers access to consumer markets, improved farming techniques, and technologies that increase yield.
Earlier in the day, participants attended a session with both Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama on the role of first ladies.
In 2010, CARE started a program called Pathways that helps women farmers lead the way to improvements in food security. “Its goal is to empower women and increase harvests,” says Njuki. “We’re now working with close to 150,000 women smallholder farmers in six countries, four of which are in Africa.”
CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Associations offer women a secure opportunity to save money and make loans to each other to start small businesses — or pay vital household expenses such as school fees for their children. Women use their small loans to raise poultry, make soap, grow vegetables, and earn income in other ways. More than 500,000 people in Tanzania have benefited from the associations, which help over three million people in 26 African countries.
“We’ve seen entrepreneurial women take the lead in growing and selling vegetables — and then turn their families’ financial situation completely around,” says Njuki.
“Thanks to programs that encourage entrepreneurship, millions of hardworking women have been able to feed their families and keep them healthy,” says Njuki. “We’re proud that the first ladies learned about those achievements and we look forward to their support.”
Media Contact: Laura Sheahen, CARE USA: LSheahen@care.org, +1.404.667.8299