Elizabeth Mpofu, founder and director of the African Women’s Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems was recently announced as the winner of the Inaugural Charlotte Maxeke African Women Leadership Awards in the category, Women in Community Service. The award recognizes Elizabeth Mpofu’s achievements, influence and contributions to the advancement of Africa’s development, and her exceptional contribution to the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Elizabeth Mpofu received the award at a prestigious high-profile ceremony that was held on 25 March 2023 at the Sandton International Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
The award ceremony was hosted by the South Africa Department of International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Hon. Dr GNM Pandor. Giving his address at the ceremony, Dr GNM Pandor noted that the event was to celebrate the many gallant African women contributing to Africa’s development, whose stories are often not told or acknowledged for their contribution. Elizabeth Mpofu was proudly one of the exceptional African women celebrated and honoured at the ceremony.
An organic farmer, activist and leader from Zimbabwe, Elizabeth Mpofu is a recognised and valued leader who plays a significant role on national, regional, and international platforms, advocating for the use of agroecological farming principles and for policies to support resilient food systems and rural women’s rights. Elizabeth Mpofu is the former chair of Zimbabwe Smallholders Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF) – an organization with about 19,000 members whose goal is improved livelihoods of organized and empowered smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe practicing sustainable and viable ecological agriculture.
Elizabeth Mpofu is a global voice for African rural women. She advises major organizations and networks within the food sovereignty movement and was, until recently, the Secretary General of La Via Campesina (LVC). LVC is a coalition of over 148 organizations, bringing together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world, and advocating for family-farm-based sustainable agriculture.
In March 2017, Elizabeth Mpofu founded the African Women’s Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems. The Collaborative arose from collective concern about rural women’s rights and food quality and a shared agenda of food sovereignty, healthy food systems, economic justice and human rights. Elizabeth Mpofu felt compelled to address the continuing marginalization of peasant and indigenous women in Africa. She was soon joined by peasant and indigenous women leaders from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia, who are all active in food sovereignty movements and lead organizations with thousands of rural women members.
Elizabeth Mpofu also expressed her delight and gratitude for being a recipient of the prestigious award. She noted, “I am delighted to be here this evening for this important occasion. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive the Charlotte Maxeke African Women Leadership Award. I am so honoured to have my work recognised in this way. I also want to thank all those who helped me achieve this and not forgetting all of you present today. Thank you!”