The African Women’s Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems was launched in 2017 at the instigation of Elizabeth Mpofu, organic farmer, activist and leader, who felt compelled to address the continuing marginalization of peasant and indigenous women in Africa. Elizabeth was soon joined by peasant and indigenous women leaders from six African countries who, together, forged the Collaborative’s Statement of Intent.
How we started
"We wish to highlight the significant role and rights of African women in producing, processing and preparing good food for people in homes and neighborhoods across the continent, both rural and urban. We are committed to ensuring that the food we eat is nutritious and healthy and is part of a way of life that respects and takes care of Mother Earth."
Our mission, vision & values
The African Women’s Collaborative for Healthy Food Systems promotes a way of life that respects, takes care of and restores Mother Earth and her resources while benefiting African people and their communities.
With the efforts of women, African people and Mother Earth are nourished, healthy and enjoying a good life!
- Commitment - ensuring that policies and practices advance healthy food systems
- Openness – being transparent and truthful
- Accountability – reporting on use of funds and other resources
- Mutual respect and trust – valuing each other
- Equity – countering social injustice and discrimination
Le Collaborative des Femmes Africaines pour des systèmes alimentaires sains préconise un mode de vie respectueux, soucieux et restoratif de la Terre-Mère et de ses ressources, tout en étant source de bienfaits pour les peuples Africains et leurs communautés.
Avec les efforts des femmes, le peuple Africain et la Terre-Mère sont bien rassasiés, revigorés et jouissant pleinement de la belle vie !
- Engagement – s’assurer que les politiques et les pratiques en vigueur promeuvent des systèmes alimentaires sains
- Ouverture – être transparente et véridique
- Redevabilité – rendre compte de l’utilisation des fonds et autres ressources
- Respect et confiance mutuels – se valoriser les uns les autres
- Equité – contrer l’injustice sociale et la discrimination
Catherine Soulama, Burkina Faso
Catherine Soulama is the representative for We Are the Solution/Nous Sommes la Solution in Burkina Faso. She is also the General Secretary of Munyu Association (Association Munyu des Femmes). Given her extensive training and experience in agroecology, compost making, biopesticides, and seed saving methods, Catherine is responsible for monitoring field schools in the Cascades Region of Burkina Faso for the Fédération Nationale des Organizations Paysannes (FENOP). Catherine holds a degree in business communication from the Higher Institute of Professional Studies. Engaged in the field of arts, she is a cultural promoter and trains people in theatre, storytelling, and artistic creations as tools for behavioural change.
Elizabeth Mpofu, Zimbabwe
Elizabeth is a practicing farmer and a founding member and former chairperson of Zimbabwe Smallholders Organic Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF), which has 19,000 members, of whom 13,000 are female, who farm ecologically. She is a board member of East & Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) and a former board member of Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA). From 2013 to 2021, Elizabeth was General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement which is a coalition of 164 organizations in 73 countries around the world, representing about 200 million peasant, landless, indigenous, and other farmers. She speaks in many arenas on behalf of the coalition to promote food sovereignty. In 2016, she was appointed Special Ambassador for Pulses in Africa for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). She was featured in the 2018 special edition of Farming Matters on agroecology.
Grace Tepula, Zambia
Grace is a dairy farmer and promoter of indigenous seeds and local foods. She is also the leader of several women-led organizations dealing with women’s rights, poverty reduction, sustainable agriculture and the environment. In her role as Mobilization and Capacity Building Secretary at ESAFF-Zambia, she helps strengthen 200 farmer groups and 1,480 individual members, the majority of whom are women. She is the chairperson of the Rural Women’s Assembly (Zambia chapter) and vice chair of the Zambia Alliance of Women.
Mariama Sonko, Senegal
Mariama is an active farmer who for the last 30 years has defended peasant knowledge and practices up to the international level and contributed to many peace-seeking activities in Casamance during its many years of conflict. She is currently a member and treasurer of the Association for Young Farmers of Casamance (AJAC), with some 8,000 members. She joined the movement Nous Sommes la Solution, launched in 2011, became its Senegal coordinator, and is now President of the regional initiative that promotes women’s rights and agroecology in seven West African countries reaching more than 160,000 rural women. Her leadership has been recognized by the Nobel Women’s Initiative and AFSA, and she was a speaker at the FAO regional meeting on agroecology in 2015.
Masudio Margaret Eberu, Uganda
Masudio is an active farmer and the District Chairperson of the Uganda chapter of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF Uganda), which operates in 30 districts in Uganda, and whose members are majority female. Masudio grew up in a peasant family in northern Uganda at the height of the war with the Lord’s Resistance Army and experienced the terror and suffering of the time. A qualified teacher who did not get the chance to exercise her profession, she now provides training to small scale farmers to advocate on issues of gender equity, women’s rights to property and land, and the prevention of gender-based violence. With the help of the Gender Action Learning System methodology, she has attained freedom and rights as a woman and has built the capacity of many women and girls to achieve the same. She chaired the committee from northern Uganda to advocate for indigenous seed and pressure parliament to prevent the introduction of GMOs, see coverage in New Vision.
Shoba Liban, Kenya
Shoba is the CEO of Pastoralist Women for Health and Education (PWHE), an economic empowerment and women’s rights organization serving 2,000 Pastoralist women and young people in Northern Kenya. She was elected to the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC) and attends meetings of the Coalition of European Lobbies for Eastern African Pastoralism (CELEP). She is a member of the National Steering Committee of ASAL Stakeholder Forum, which works in partnership with Government to champion pastoralist issues in Kenya. Shoba is also a former board member of the The Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Board, a semi-autonomous government agency in Kenya established in 2013. Engaged in livestock farming, she is a community activist, spokesperson and advocate for women.
Mathama Flora Maswangyi, South Africa
Mathama Flora Maswangyi, South Africa was a member of the Steering Committee from 2017 until her untimely death in 2019, may she rest in peace. The Collaborative pays tribute to her remarkable accomplishments and presence.
Gladys Serwaa Adusah, Ghana
Gladys is the Gender Desk Officer of Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD) representing 32,000 members, 75% of whom are female. ECASARD aims to improve indigenous knowledge and focuses on gender-sensitive networking, income generation, capacity building and agricultural policy advocacy. Gladys regularly represents ECASARD at international conferences on women’s rights, see August 2017 video interview.
Siribi Dao, Burkina Faso
Siribi grew up in a peasant farming family and has farmed all her life, while taking on leadership roles to advance women’s rights and food sovereignty. She is country coordinator for We Are the Solution/Nous Sommes la Solution; Vice President of Association Munyu; and Deputy Secretary of the Fédération Nationale des Organisations Paysannes.
Tabara Ndiaye, Senegal
Tabara is Program Officer for American Jewish World Service, with responsibility for Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Democratic Republic of Congo. She is a board member of Global Fund for Women and previously worked for ten years with New Field Foundation, developing its grantmaking program for rural women and their organizations in French speaking West Africa. She has close links with the culture and environment of rural women, and understands the challenges they face as well as their prospects for the future.
The Collaborative greatly appreciates the significant support from organizations and individuals who backed the Collaborative in its early years and continue to provide support.
- Agroecology Fund · is supporting the documentation and broadcasting of rural women’s stories on agroecology and healthy food systems in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
- Ben & Jerry’s Foundation · gave our first grant in our first year
- CS Fund · supported our first convening and is funding our research on feminist agroecology
- Global Fund for Women · is supporting our work for economic justice
- Mama Cash · is supporting our work on feminist agroecology
- The Christensen Fund · is supporting our work on women’s seeds, communications, and general support for the Collaborative
- Vanguard Charitable · gave a general support grant to help us get established
Our Allies make the commitment to work with us for at least three years, enabling their leaders to be part of the Collaborative, providing advice and input, and working in solidarity with us. They include:
The Collaborative welcomes people with relevant expertise to help strengthen our work on a volunteer basis. We receive ongoing support from: