Monday, November 9, 2009

Women in Rural Development Constrains and Opportunity

Dear Friends ,

The following article can be linked to Rural Development and Development Dynamics in the syllabus. I have highlighted important points please make a note of the same.



Throughout our country rural areas are characterized by high levels of poverty limited economic and employment opportunities undeveloped infrastructure and limited services with marginalized communities economically dependent on urban areas. For decades our rural communities were denied adequate education and our youth forced to abandon their homes and seek jobs in the cities. Our people were forced out of the countryside to become cheap migrant laborers in the factories, in the cities and on the farms. Our women in rural areas have had to bear the brunt of suffering by having to walk long distances to fetch water and collect firewood, by having to eke out their living and that of their families often on barren land to which they had been removed. They have remained pillars of strength in the community and we must pay tribute to their fortitude and resilience. Further our rural communities have to contend with lack of access to government services and unintended policy implementation consequences, as the implementation of policy tended to be biased towards the urban and semi urban areas.

We have to recognize women as the driving force for rural development. Women farmers are main food producers in developing countries and yet they are one of the most vulnerable groups. Their economic empowerment to produce more and to participate in policy formulation is critical to addressing poverty and food insecurity.

Before rural development can be successful, the important role of women has to be acknowledged. Moreover, they have to be fully integrated and given the possibility of acquiring knowledge and skills, and of utilizing them as well.

The government should also abolish the legally based discrimination of women fixed in inheritance rights; give them equal access to land, livestock, and means of production; make it possible for them to participate in business activities; and guarantee them a right to membership and voting in labor organizations, credit associations, and similar organizations.

The number of women in training and extension programmes should be increased, especially in posts from which they have been excluded until now. The contents and subjects of training and extension programmes should be expanded so that the role of women in production, processing, and marketing can also be taken into account.

To achieve participation equal to that of men in public institutions, the women's cooperative activities should be promoted. To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to create a system for ascertaining the obstacles hindering the participation of women in schools, health services, employment, and general development. Statistical data showing women's contribution in production should be compiled and published. Measures facilitating household work and care of the children increase the chance for women to participate in economic, training, and political activities. Men should also be obligated to do their share of household work.

Training facilities of equal quality for girls and women, with the same subject matter as for men, should be established and made attractive by offering scholarships. These institutions should be followed up by possibilities of earning an income with the guarantee of an equal salary for equal work. Training possibilities for women are especially important not only in the fields of agriculture and in non- agricultural gainful employment, but also in the sectors health, nutrition, children's education, and family planning. It is necessary to make sure that, during the transition from a traditional economy to the modern technologies; the negative implications for women are minimized.

The face of the farmer and natural resource manager is primarily female in most of the developing world. Knowledge, technology, policies, institutions and programmes must therefore be developed by putting women at the centre to orient structures and processes to address their needs as food producers and environmental managers through gender mainstreaming and investing in women and girls to bridge the existing gender gaps. The prevailing misunderstanding and neglect of this fact has contributed to a significant loss of opportunities and investments in women farmers and thus has had major consequences for food security and poverty alleviation. Rather than being regarded as a vulnerable group, women’s knowledge, experience and substantial roles make them experts in agriculture and natural resource management; they are key agents in the way forward for sustainable development.

As women bear the brunt of poverty, it is just and fair that the bulk of our programmes be targeted towards them. We have to ensure that they also enjoy the fruits of freedom. We need to formulate tangible programmes that will take women issues to the centre of our agenda. The consolidation of democracy in our country requires the eradication of social and economic inequities, especially those that are systematic in nature, which were generated in our history.

Though agriculture has a central role to play in the rural community, it is not an end in itself but a means to an end which is rural development. It remains one of the important ingredients which include access to healthcare, education and other government services such enabling documents. Therefore the project planning for rural development needs to take these factors into account. Although significant progress has been made in restructuring and transforming our society and institutions, systematic inequalities and unfair discrimination remain deeply embedded in social structures, practices and attitudes, undermining the aspirations of our constitutional federal democratic republic.

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