Women’s Collective Voice, a Force for Change

Ilse Heeremans
Ilse Heeremans

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Ilse: “Imagine you are a woman farmer in Tanzania, you work hard all day on a plot of land to produce food for your family and a little extra to sell at the market. It’s a hard but happy life. But you have noticed you and other women farmers are increasingly under pressure from the effects of climate change & land grabs. You also notice your voice is not heard and you are never invited for a seat at the decision-making table. So you decide to do something about it and shout out together with 5000 women.”

Women farmers climbed the Kilimanjaro to demand that their voices be heard and gained a seat at the table in return!

Project description

What problem are you trying to solve?
You are a woman farmer in Africa and you have no right to the land you depend on, you can lose it at any given moment. You decide to change this, you even become the President of the Pan-African Women Farmers’ Forum, but still this is not enough. Your voice and that of many women farmers is still being ignored. Unbelievable, because women farmers produce up to 80% of the food. And if women farmers were given equal land rights and agricultural supports their productivity would increase with 20-30%, resulting in 150 million less people suffering from hunger. This is the story of Eva Daudi, a small-holder farmer and millions of other African women farmers from all over Africa.

What is your solution to this problem?
So you decide it to amp it up and shout your demands from the roof top, that is from the top of the highest mountain in Africa, the famous Kilimanjaro. The Women2Kilimanjaro initiative was unique in its size and scope. 5000 women participated in it and 30 actually climbed all the way to the top, including Eva Daudi.
The women were supported by ActionAid and local CSO’s. Similar local and national mobilizations took place prior to the climb throughout Africa, leading up to a Mass Assembly in October 2016 at the foot of the Kilimanjaro where hundreds of women farmers collectively wrote a clear and concise charter of demands. And their efforts paid off! The women’s voices were finally being heard, national governments promised to implement their demands and they got a seat at the table at the UN and the African Union. It is clear that when women stand together in solidarity and use the power of advocacy to make their voice heard, mountains can be moved!

Why are you going to win The Spindle Award for Best Innovation?
Because this is one of the most inspiring initiatives we have seen in a long time. Women took matters in their own hands. As they say in Africa “Nothing about us without us”. This is empowerment in the real sense of the word that will only continue to grow and yield results!


ilse heeremans
Elliaa Jutte

ilse heeremans
Ilse Heeremans


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