Empowering Women in Agriculture: A Young Man’s Leadership in Nicaragua

Meet Yader Blandín. This young Nicaraguan man joined a gender commission to challenge stereotypes and change the mentality of multiple generations within his community. TechnoServe knows engaging men is a critical component of empowering women in agriculture.

Yader Blandin works with women in agriculture in his community.

Many countries in Latin America still struggle with gender inequality despite the considerable progress of the past decade. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened many conditions for women in Latin American countries. In a region where one in three women are affected by gender-based violence, the stay-at-home orders that cropped up during the pandemic only exacerbated issues of domestic violence against women and girls and an uptick in femicide. 

It’s a challenge that does not just concern women farmers. Yader Blandín, a 25-year-old farmer, feels compelled to do what he can to fight gender inequality in his hometown near Jinotega, Nicaragua.

Empowering Women in Agriculture and Beyond

“It is clear that there is still a macho culture, especially in the older generations,” he said. “But if we can contribute to gender equality, we must do everything possible.”

Yader wants to see a world where his daughter, Akira Michell, can achieve her dream of becoming a veterinarian. He sees his mission as working to change restrictive gender attitudes in his community. 

Yader Blandín and his daughter, Akira.
Yader Blandín with his daughter, Akira.

A Leader on Gender Equality Gets His Start

After finishing school, Yader became a farmer like many members of his family and community. As it is for many in Nicaragua, agriculture was his family’s main source of income. 

In 2019, TechnoServe started a project with funding from Walmart Foundation. The Smallholder Market Access program is working with farmers in Guatemala and Nicaragua to earn higher, more dependable incomes through integration into high-value commercial value chains. Yader is one of nearly 9,000 fruit and vegetable farmers who learned how to improve the value of their produce, connect to new markets, and earn higher incomes to provide a better life for their families. 

“It felt good to see that the production improved,” said Yader. “At the end of the season, the volume was higher, and that represented a bit of extra income.”

From TechnoServe, Yader learned financial management and improved agricultural techniques.  He changed his planting process to ensure that his product is of higher quality and can generate new and better sales. He also produces organic fertilizers and is a part of the Cooesán cooperative. 

Yader is not only focused on strengthening his economic situation, but on doing everything possible so that his daughter can go to university and dedicate herself to work outside of agriculture. 

“There are many dreams that I would like to fulfill, but sometimes it is difficult,” said Yader. “It is clear to me that I want to get ahead in order to support my family, but above all, my daughter.”  

Women in Agriculture: Sowing Seeds of Gender Equality 

Through his work with TechnoServe, Yader joined his cooperative’s gender commission. Members of the gender commission learn about topics such as the origin of gender concepts, and how men and women can support gender equality through small actions like sharing tasks at home and on the farm. 

“If someone asks me the benefit of being a part of the gender commission, the first thing I would say is that many do not know what it is to work alongside women. It feels nice because each person has something to contribute with their knowledge, and one can transmit those messages to the rest of the community.” – Yader Blandín, farmer, Nicaragua

Yader understands the opportunity he has to convey a message to adolescents about gender and intends to organize discussions about gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

The Hopes of a Farmer for Gender Equality

Yader wants everyone to learn to value women equally, so they can have a greater voice to express themselves. He wants to help society learn to offer everyone opportunities to participate in any project or activity in their community.

“We must think that we are all equal to get ahead,” said Yader. “We must help each other because it is important not only for the development of the community, but also for our businesses to prosper.”

Yader has been leading by example, as his mother and wife both help in decision-making in the home. “We need to respect children, women, the elderly, and men because we are all equal,” said Yader. “If a woman speaks, she must be listened to, without preference for men, because everyone’s opinions are valid.”

Yader continues to work for the betterment of his family and hopes that one day, his efforts as a leader in his community will bring about change for future generations, like his daughter Akira. 

He says, “I only know that I will do everything possible so that my daughter grows up empowered, knowing she has the opportunity to follow her dreams.” 

Gender inequality in agriculture is a significant challenge in many countries, but initiatives like this show that change is possible. TechnoServe is committed to empowering women in agriculture and promoting sustainable development in communities around the world. Learn more about our work and how you can support our efforts to make a difference. Let’s work together to create a more equitable world.