Wangari Kuria, founder of Farmer on Fire and 2023 Global Citizen Prize Winner, is celebrated for her dedication to social justice, environmentalism, and her work empowering women farmers across the world.
As CEO and Founder of Farmer on Fire Global Consultancy, Kuria engages thousands of small-scale farmers, training them on farming techniques, developing their entrepreneurial skills, and improving safe food production across the world by influencing youth and women-led agribusinesses. With a rich background as an agribusiness entrepreneur, aggregator, and value-chain expert, Kuria is dedicated to making agriculture appealing to youth through her engaging social media content on farming.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that 43% of agricultural workers are women. Women play a vital role in global agriculture, producing food for their families and communities; yet, women farmers face persistent, systemic challenges including difficulties accessing loans or financing, legal barriers to land ownership, unpaid child care, unpaid labor, and period poverty.
Organizations like Farmer on Fire empower women by connecting professional networks and sharing knowledge to improve their agricultural practices. This work not only promotes local food security, but also fosters economic independence and gender equality.
And now, Farmer on Fire is doing even more than that when it comes to empowering women.
Kuria is tackling the holistic needs of women in the African region by partnering with Global Citizen and Period.co.
US-based company Period.co manufactures reusable period underwear that save women an average of $250 on menstrual products per year. Farmer on Fire is working with Period.co to eventually donate 500 pairs of period underwear to girls in Mwakwaboki Primary School, laborers at the Nduti Tea Factory in Muranga County, and low-income households in Kitengela, Kenya.
The World Bank estimates that as many as 500 million people across the globe lack access to basic menstrual products, experiencing some level of period poverty. Poor menstrual health has been linked to physical health risks, including reproductive and urinary tract infections.
Kuria explained that one of the women they provided the underwear to had two daughters with disabilities and that the mother told them the product would go a long way in ensuring their health. It will also impact the family’s finances.
“[She told us] she can have more hours to pick more tea leaves, which will raise the household income, instead of worrying and changing the cotton nappies and frequent runs to the hospital due to flare ups [from infections],” Kuria told Global Citizen.
Climate change is linked to period poverty in impoverished rural areas, as heat waves and flash floods become more common throughout rural regions of the world and many farmers are unable to yield a profitable harvest. This often causes women and girls to forgo purchasing menstrual products to save money for their households.
Period.co helps mitigate waste as most sanitary products are difficult to dispose of, causing them to wind up in landfills in the millions. While in these landfills, they have the potential to leak toxins that are harmful to surrounding wildlife. In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year, causing microplastics to pollute our oceans and rivers — period underwear is reusable for up to five years.
“Through actively partnering with GC and Period.co, this initiative has worked to improve lives and make the world better,” Kuria said. “[Our] efforts have helped female farmers shun period poverty and ensure that they don't miss a day of work just because they are women.”
In the face of the global food security crisis, as well as in the fight for women's economic empowerment, private sector companies supporting the work of women like Kuria are critical.
Global Citizen’s partner the PepsiCo Foundation has proven to be a leader in this space, pushing high impact initiatives such as the Zero Hunger Private Sector Pledge. This pledge recognizes the integral role of women in food production, supporting programs that provide women with access to resources, education, and opportunities in agriculture.
Disclosure: The PepsiCo Foundation is a Global Citizen grant partner.