Occupying 42.6% of GDP, agriculture is a key sector in Chad's economic development (Statista, 2021). Women are essential, accounting for 85% of those working in the sector (FAO, 2017). Yet Chad has been ranked as the second most unequal country in the world in terms of gender, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Inequality Index (GII) (160th out of 161 countries in 2020). This inequality results in, among other things, extremely limited access for Chadian women to education, finance, governance, land, productive and economic resources. Traditions, religion and low education rates for women are said to be the main causes (Oxfam, 2018).
Addressing this gender inequality is an imperative in terms of women's rights but also a matter of common sense for the development of the Chadian agricultural sector. And this, Helène Dounro has understood. Since 2012, this Franco-Chadian has decided to exploit the potential of one of her country's most important export crops to enable women to thrive. With the creation of Tchadex, a sesame seed production and processing company, Hélène Dounro is offering women an opportunity to earn a decent income and improve their living conditions, while developing a profitable industry in an inclusive and sustainable manner. Tchadex is committed to this by sourcing from a network of 325 cooperatives with more than 4,450 almost exclusively female members and by employing more than 170 women in its processing facilities. In addition, a free nursery system has been set up for female employees.
Finally, Tchadex employees benefit from educational sessions on maternal and child health and hygiene and a literacy program in a country where only 14% of women are literate (WorldBank, 2016). The company also raises awareness among rural communities about women's rights, the benefits of their active participation in economic life and the importance of educating young girls, and supports them in their efforts to access land, which remains particularly difficult in the country.
LadyAgri is committed to supporting companies like Tchadex because, in addition to the benefits generated for the agricultural sector, the financial empowerment of women allows them to make their own choices. We are convinced that supporting women to have decision-making power within their families and communities has a positive impact on society because they are traditionally in charge of managing the household and educating their children (rural Chadian women bear 80 to 90% of family expenses).