Rural women are the engines of agricultural labor force, especially in developing countries, yet their contributions go largely unnoticed. They produce and process food that appears on our tables in the form of cereal, bread, honey, and much more. “Rural women are the backbone of sustainable livelihoods,” affirmed Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Earmarked for October 15 each year, the International Day of Rural Women recognizes the crucial role of such women in ensuring food security to help with development and security of rural areas. However, rural women are unable to reach their full potential due to lack of education and resources. The situation is further aggravated by patriarchal societal pressures. Despite these barriers, rural women wear many hats in their day-to-day routines like that of caregivers, farmers, and casual laborers.
It is incumbent on governments to enhance access to educational opportunities, property rights, and decision making for this fragile yet vital section of rural women to help them reach their full potential. Celebrating International Day of Rural Women by United Nations and other organizations is a first step in empowering them towards financial security. However, strict implementation of solutions to help such women out of poverty should be executed at the grassroots level for real visible change in their current situation.
Each time you buy a clay pot or a homemade straw basket, think of the hands that crafted these items. By purchasing them, you are playing a pivotal role in providing livelihood to women who depend hugely on income from such produce.
Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.