What is it like to be a woman or girl living in rural DRC? Caught in the crossfire between crushing poverty, subsistence farming, and harmful traditions that confine women to defined roles and spaces? Not easy. This project, 3E, is 3-pronged: targeting vulnerable women (pygmies, widows, sexual violence survivors, women with disabilities/illness) to learn crop cultivation, establish an economic cooperative so they can buy - not rent - the land they work, and to heal the environment. Win-win-win.
Women in rural areas of the DRC live within the confines of harmful gender stereotypes. They engage in subsistence farming, working their own small plot in isolation which doesn't produce enough to sell regularly at the markets. The plots of land are owned by the local chief and rented to the women. Most affected are vulnerable women, facing exploitation with little ability to advocate for themselves. Their way of farming is destructive: burning, destruction of soil nutrients, smoke pollution.
3E will: teach women about agroforestry, to plant a tree next to each crop grown. This strengthens the earth, increasing the nutrient base, and helping the crops grow. Burning is no longer done and crop rotation is established, allowing sections of the earth to "rest." Forming a cooperative, community agriculture empowers women to extend their plots, stitching together a larger communal plot of land. Revenue earned by selling crops allows them to buy the land from the chief and set up markets.
This project is led by FFC, a women's rights organization. Many women and girls experience a profound transformation after working with us beyond short-term gains. They develop into strong human rights advocates, become politically engaged, and step into roles as peace negotiators and community leaders. Project 3E will impact 200 women through empowerment, economic cooperatives, and land ownership. Long-term impact happens when local women are resourced so that they can act on their choices.