Investing in women’s leadership means prioritizing and centering women’s perspectives and their lived experiences of the kinds of gender bias and discrimination that drive exploitation. Women’s perspectives and profound personal knowledge of such gendered power structures are the keys to fully understanding vulnerability, preventing exploitation, and advancing sustainable change. Even more importantly, we need to promote diverse forms of leadership of women who can authentically speak with and for those most directly affected. We asked several women from across Winrock to answer in their own words why they think women’s leadership is essential in their respective areas of expertise.
Every year in March, we celebrate women, their achievements, and their tremendous contributions to our society, and what better way to celebrate than by highlighting a woman who is making a significant impact in her field? Mina H. Lassey, Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer Country Director, is one such woman dedicated to empowering women in the agricultural sector in Ghana. Mina Lassey boasts over two decades of experience in the development sector, with a particular focus on managing projects to improve the lives of individuals and communities. She has held various roles during her career, including serving as the F2F Program Manager for nine years. Mina’s expertise lies in project management, monitoring and evaluation, agribusiness, and natural resource management, which she has leveraged to implement impactful development projects. Presently, Mina is the Country Director of The Farmer to Farmer Program in Ghana, where she continues to make significant contributions towards empowering local communities and promoting sustainable development.
According to studies, 62% of economically active women in Africa work in agriculture as producers, traders, and processors. Unfortunately, despite their high representation in the sector, rural women still lag behind men in terms of productivity and earnings. Mina recognized this problem and has worked tirelessly to empower women to thrive in the agricultural sector. Mina leads the West Africa F2F Country Project, which supports post-harvest, predominantly female-dominated areas. Through this project, Mina aims to empower women-owned agribusinesses with technical support, business training, and access to high-value markets and resources. She believes empowering these women will transform Ghana’s agricultural sector’s productivity and prosperity.
Mina’s work has already yielded positive results. For example, Meannan Foods, a woman-led agribusiness, received an award for being the best agribusiness in which the owners are under 40 years old. The F2F project provided support in online marketing skills to help increase sales and access international markets. Another success story is Hendy Farms, another woman-led agribusiness that received support from F2F to build a processing facility and diversify its product lines. Hendy Farms was also awarded during a Hortifresh Fair for having the best-packaged products.
These organizations are a testament to the power of women’s leadership in the agricultural sector. With the proper support, women-led businesses can thrive, impacting their livelihoods and the agricultural sector as a whole. Mina’s work gives us hope for the future and inspires us to support women’s leadership in our respective fields. Mina’s dedication to empowering women in the agricultural sector exemplifies what can be achieved when women are given the support they need to succeed. Her work inspires us all, and we can learn from her example to empower more women in our communities and fields of work.