Gender myths are widely held beliefs, ideas or opinions about men or women that are not true. Oftentimes, such beliefs or opinions hinder women and men from achieving their full potentials. We encountered one of such myths in our work to promote use of improved palm fruit harvesting technologies across the Niger Delta
PIND has facilitated the adoption of the mechanical Adjustable Harvester (MAH) and the Malaysian Knife (MK) by oil palm farm clusters and farmers in the Niger Delta to improve the efficiency of their palm fruit harvesting methods and thereby increase their income from harvested Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB).
During the course of the promotion, our team observed that, despite the economic their economic benefits, women were not using the Mechanical Adjustable Harvester (MAH) and the Malaysian Knife (MK) because they believed they are for men and that harvesting palm fruit is a male function.
However, one woman palm oil farmer took the bold decision to adopt the use of the MAH and MK – Mrs. Ruth Okerewamgba. According to Ruth ‘’ While I could not climb tree to cut down the fresh fruit bunch, I made determination to use the MAH after realizing that men who adopted the MAH are no more climbing palm trees and have increased their income’’.
Gender myths can be dispelled through education and awareness creation. Having men or women who have successfully challenged or overcome such myths to share their experiences tends to inspire others to follow suit. So when PIND’s gender committee determined to go about breaking the gender myth surrounding women’s use of the technologies through practical demonstration of the MAH and MK for women farmers, Ruth was the natural choice to lead the demonstration.
The demonstration was held in June 2016 at an oil palm cluster in Edo State with 14 women in attendance. Ruth led the demonstration, supported by PIND’s team made up of our Market Development Officer for Palm Oil, Blessing Allen-Adebayo, ATED Value Chain Coordinator, Nabeel Adeyemi and Capacity Building Program Officer, Yemi Omire.
After Ruth’s demonstration, the women participants were empowered to try out using the MAH in turns for the first time in their lives. They were very excited to see they could use it very well!
Though this is yet a small step towards the long journey of breaking gender myths, our Blessing Allen-Adebayo is very optimistic of the future. ‘’These 15 women have now become change agents who will help to influence more women in other oil palm clusters to adopt the MAH for use. We started with one change agent, now we have 15’’ says Blessing ‘’my greatest joy is that these women can now benefit from the economic value of using the MAH’’.
PIND remains committed to fostering an “egalitarian and peaceful society that guarantees equal rights and equitable access to and control of productive resources; ensuring that individuals are empowered to create wealth and overcome poverty and disease irrespective of sex and other demographic differentials’’