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Female food hero

On World Food Day in October, Concern Worldwide took part in a major event in Tanzania to award a single woman for being a “female food hero.”

The initiative, started by Oxfam as part of its GROW campaign, honours outstanding women food producers. It was designed to empower, inspire, and support women farmers and pastoralists by recognising their contributions to society. 

Women in Tanzania

We have seen what happens when women are excluded from decision-making – increased poverty. That is why the inclusion of women is central to Concern’s work in Tanzania. 

Half of the 42 million people in Tanzania are female. These women contribute 65% to all farming production and processing, and 25% are heads of households. Women in Tanzania reap few rewards for their contribution to the economy and they are most likely to be poor. 

Finding a hero

The selection process to find Tanzania’s female food hero was rigorous, with over 7,000 entries nationwide. Innovative methods of farming, animal husbandry and food processing were all aspects that were taken into consideration in the search for a food hero. Women were also nominated for acting as leaders within their communities. The judges selected 20 finalists and members of the public then voted for their favourite candidate.


Eleven finalists made it to a special training camp to learn about improved farming practices, gender, and health issues. The age of the finalists ranged from 23 to 80. 

Six of them were from villages where Concern works and three of them have directly benefitted from our programmes there. We are delighted to have worked with so many finalists. It showed that our programmes are improving people’s farming skills.


The selection of the final three winners was based on their performance during the training camp, and their ability to go back to their communities to share skills and encourage other women. The final three won high-level prizes to support their communities in agriculture. The overall winner was Ester Jerome Mtegule from Mpwapwa village in Dodoma (pictured). Ester grows millet, maize, ground nuts, sorghum, sunflowers, cow peas, and she keeps livestock. 

Recognising women

We are committed to social and economic justice for women in Tanzania. We will continue to promote and educate the population on gender issues in 2012 through our programmes, which are partially funded by the EU.

Partially funded by the EU