Anastacia Makes Things Happen
International Women’s Day might be my favorite day of the year. It gives me a chance to reflect on all of the amazing women that I get to work with every day.
This isn’t just CARE staff who are exceptional, but also the women in the communities where we work. Without those women, we would have a hard time seeing lasting change. Goods and services aren’t enough: to get to real change, people need to take forward new ideas and try new ways to meet their needs. CARE works to support women all over the world access services, build businesses, take on leadership roles, and secure their families’ future. With help from their allies, those women are changing their communities, and the world.
This year, CARE celebrated International Women’s Day with the theme “Make it Happen,” and last week, I met a woman who could be the poster child for our campaign. Anastacia Antonio is a woman who makes things happen. She’s not what most people expect when they think of a farmer who leads her community—she is a single mother in her twenties—but she has the drive to change the world. When she heard about the Farmer’s Field School program—one that provides support to farmers to experiment with new methods for increasing production and reducing labor and environmental impacts on their farms—she knew that she wanted one for her village. She started looking around to find out how to get a field school. Eventually, she tracked down the local NGO that CARE works with—AENA—and made a pitch to get a field school in her village. She said, “It’s not easy for a woman alone to have a farm and get people to listen to her. But I wanted a school here so we could improve our practices.”
Today, Anastacia is the president of a Farmer’s Field School in Meconta, Mozambique. At the school she, along with the 14 women and 7 men in the association, works with CARE and our Mozambican partner AENA to experiment with new methods of conservation agriculture. Farmers themselves drive the process of trying new planting techniques and new varieties to see what will work best in their own communities. These methods help farmers get more food from their land—preliminary data in Mozambique suggests that conservation agriculture could increase cassava yields by 300%. Not only that, the new techniques mean using fewer inputs, resisting drought, increasing the health of the soil, and making fields last productively for years without increasing the burden of climate change or environmental damage.
Anastacia proudly showed us the fields where the association members are experimenting with new methods. She told us that her group is a legally registered organization that can now apply to the government for assistance, and access more resources. From their experiments, not only are they adopting new ways to plant in their fields so they get more food, but they see their neighbors trying new ideas.
Antonia is making it happen. Let’s make sure that she and women like her get the opportunities and support they need to change their lives for good.