On International Day of Rural Women (October 15) sheatwork.com observes that the empowerment of rural women is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for all
Do you know that rural women make up a quarter of the world’s population? This may be something we are not aware of.
We constantly hear about gender inequalities and discrimination. So, it is befitting that a day has been marked out for rural women. On 15 October this year, the United Nations commemorates the International Day of Rural Women, with the theme, “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”. The call is to the international community to work with rural women and girls everywhere and to invest in the sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection that can revolutionize their livelihoods, well-being and resilience. This year, the attempt is to improve public services, including health care, education, childcare and shelters, on which millions of rural women depend; and laws, policies and budgets that can better their well-being and livelihood. UN has made it clear that they stand in solidarity with rural women everywhere, as they seek to influence the decisions that shape their lives.
To trace back, it was on October 15, 2008, that the first International Day of Rural Women was observed. The objective was – to recognize the role of rural women, which includes indigenous women, to enhance agricultural and rural development, improve food security and eradicate rural poverty. Incidentally, the idea of honoring rural women with a special day was put forward in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
UN had noted that ‘rural women are the invisible mainstay of community resilience and sustainability.’ Rural women are key contributors to agricultural production, food security, climate advocacy, enterprise, and citizenship. Unfortunately, the contribution and the effort of rural women are not recognized and their skills and potential are underutilized.
It is a fact that when women are empowered they, can not only contribute to their family’s income, but they can also become active change leaders in their communities. If you support and mould a woman, you build a community; and when she is empowered, it goes without saying that her generation and her family is empowered.
So, how can rural women be sustainably empowered?
Education can help. Investing and building the capacities of rural women will improve their business, social, economic and financial skills. When women have access to quality entrepreneurial development training opportunities, they will be empowered.
Develop vocational skills and businesses: Rural women are looking for different ways to be empowered through hands-on skills, entrepreneurship, and micro business expansions. Rural women can be assisted to gain direct vocational skills training or business idea expansion opportunities. Basic tools can be provided to start, operate, build and expand their businesses.
Assistance with finance. Rural women are consistently looking for leads to access funds, microloans, business management and operational tools. If a woman has access to basic tools for effectiveness and productivity, she will do more and multiply her efforts, as she is committed to work. So, women empowerment programs can help women access interest-free loans.
Healthcare is important. Being vulnerable to health issues in different communities, women face all forms of health problems Epidemics of diseases, high rate of maternal and infant mortality, HIV/Aid and other lethal diseases can be problems that women have to face globally. This is worse in rural communities. So projects or programs can be designed to focus on providing affordable healthcare and training for women on healthy living.
Mentoring and social groups can help. Cooperative learning and social groups contribute to the growth and empowerment of women. When women are part of supportive groups in their community, they are encouraged to discuss the challenges they are facing and this can lead to personal and group growth. So, creating platforms for rural women mentorship and development will go far to help empower women.
So, the empowerment of rural women is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for all.