The Agricultural sector is acquiring more women due to COVID-19
Some women in Rwanda have lost their businesses and others their jobs as a result of COVID-19, making it harder for them to support their families. “My business was just kicking off when the pandemic happened. I had to shut down before I invest more money into it,” said a previous restaurant owner. These women, however, have made their experience a success. Various women are now contributing directly to the agricultural sector. The pandemic enabled one of them to transition from the wedding industry to agriculture.
Prior to the pandemic, a mother of three, owned a wedding business. “When COVID-19 started, everything stopped. I used to own a wedding business, and at the time it was lucrative because there were so many weddings in Rwanda. The wedding industry took a huge hit due to the pandemic and the regulations surrounding it, and it became financially hard to support my family. I then realized I had to invest my energy into something as lucrative to survive. When businesses and other working areas shut down, I noticed that we were still being fed. The agricultural sector in Rwanda contributes significantly to the country’s economy, and I thought to myself that I already have pieces of land that could be used efficiently. I was already considering agriculture but the pandemic gave me the necessary push to fully invest in it.”
She was inspired by other women that had become recently unemployed and proceeded to join the agricultural sector. She added she found agriculture to be a consistent resource in comparison to the wedding industry. “The wedding industry is a risky business because it is seasonal and depends more on those getting married, and availability of wedding venues. Agriculture, however, is consistent. People are always eating, and it is even easier when you have your own land so you do not have to rent. Additionally, there are so many restrictions surrounding work in the city, but no one will stop us from going into our farms or force us to implement some of the regulations. Agriculture also employs numerous and various people that do not only earn money. They learn to grow a few crops in their backyards in order to feed their families from just more than their salaries. During COVID-19 especially, I came across a few women in rural areas that were struggling to find work, and some had already been let go from their jobs. Now, they help around my plantation, and some of them have their children helping them as well since they are not currently attending school.”
She grows chia seeds in Bugesera and is excited to put her crop on the market. Nonetheless, there are still women, who them too have lost their businesses and jobs, but are struggling to find solutions to their problems. “I advise other women to be open minded. We tend to limit ourselves, and overthink the next step because we do not see how it will be lucrative or worthwhile, but COVID-19, although not ideal health-wise, it is the perfect time to explore other ideas. This pandemic is ideal to research, and figure out what works and what does not. It is important we stop dwelling on what is not working for us, and how negatively this pandemic has affected us, because it will one day be over, and how we have used this time will then be reflected. We do not have to all join the agricultural sector but it is clear we cannot lie on employment in times like these.”