From Beekeeping to Owning Land

African Women's Development Fund is Helping Women in Rwanda Challenge Cultural Norms

Many interventions focus on entrepreneurship when the reality is that the vast majority of women are wage workers. They sell their labor in very low paying jobs.

Sarah Mukasa, African Women’s Development Fund

In Kabarondo, Rwanda, beekeepers are traditionally men. When a group of women saw an economic opportunity and decided they wanted to become beekeepers, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) immediately moved to support them. As the first pan-African women’s grantmaker located on the continent, AWDF has often challenged cultural norms and blazed a trail for women’s rights and philanthropy. In Kabarondo, AWDF took what started as a livelihoods project one step further by assisting a group of women to become not only beekeepers, but also landowners.

The predominant economic activity in Rwanda is agriculture. Customary law placed women in Rwanda at a disadvantage for generations, most significantly in the area of access to and control over land. According to Rwandan tradition, the man is the head of the household. He controls all family assets, including land, which are passed on from father to son. Wives do not inherit from their husbands and daughters do not inherit from their fathers.

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Meet Patricia

Patricia

In Rwanda, primary education is free. Families, in both rural and urban areas, are able to send their children to primary school. The challenge arises in secondary school, when families have to pay fees, and most opt to send the boy. Patricia is one of the leaders of the women beekeeping group. “I feel empowered in my community. I am hoping that our beekeeping project continues to yield positive results, and that we will be able to sell the honey produced, make income, and send our children to school. I am definitely sending my daughter to secondary school and even to university.”

The fact remains that in many communities, women to do not own or inherit property.

Beatrice Boakye-Yiadom, African Women’s Development Fund