She Grows: empowering women in Mali, supported by Tree Aid

20 May 2024

For women living in Mali, there are fewer opportunities to earn income, as they often have less access to resources, formal education and jobs. Most women depend on their land for income – growing and selling food for their families. But climate change and gender injustice (men are usually in charge of the land rights) makes it difficult for women to live off their land and feel empowered.

This is where Tree Aid has come in. They have recently completed a three-year UK Aid Match project, equipping women with the tools and training they need to boost their income, restore their land and have greater understanding of their rights.

Over 1,000 women from 10 different villages were supported in setting up sustainable businesses, learning vital skills from soil conservation to beekeeping to producing products like shea butter and soap.

Sitan, who lives in South Western Mali, has been part of the project since 2020, which brings women together to process and sell forest products like balanites (dates) and shea butter. She has been trained in land management techniques such as water and soil conservation, crucial for growing food in Mali’s drylands. And Sitan has taken part in community initiatives such as public speaking training and the village savings and loan association, giving her confidence and making her feel valued.

I play an important role in the community, because being a woman here means hard work and courage.” 

A women wearing a colourful top and skirt crouching in a field of crops

Photograph: Sitan tending to her crops. Credit: Tree Aid

The project also delivered gender equality workshops for men and women in the communities, resulting in 58 women incorporated into natural resource management monitoring brigades. Traditionally men’s roles, the newly trained brigades are equipped with bikes, torches and boots, and supported to protect their forest area from attempts at deforestation.

The project has increased average household incomes by 171%, and reports indicate those participating women have been able to amplify their voices, making important decisions about their land and lifting their families out of poverty.

Photograph: Some of the women’s group standing together on the land. Photo credit: Tree Aid

Find out more about the project and it’s impact in empowering women by taking a look at Tree Aid’s project update on their website.