By Lucky Ihanza
October 15, 2020.
- October 15 every year is international Day of Rural Women. With this year’s theme as: “Building Rural Women’s Resilience in the Wake of COVID-19”, the day is set aside to recognize that women bear a disproportionate burden of multi-dimensional poverty, and also elevate the critical role and contribution of rural women – in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security for their families and communities, and eradicating rural poverty.
In Nigeria, and in many parts of the world, rural women are majorly involved in the agricultural value chain. And though they represent a quarter of the world’s population and work as farmers, wage earners, and entrepreneurs, they constitute less than 20% of landholders worldwide, the gender pay gap is as high as 40%, according to un.org.
According to a survey conducted in Nigeria, rural women lack access to modern methods of improving agricultural production and of other ways of self- development, hence the need for the dissemination of vital information that could assist rural dwellers to improve themselves and their economic status, as an effective means of rural development.
Amidst daunting challenges, the rural woman remains a key development agent, playing a catalytic role towards the attainment of transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.
They labour under acutely disadvantageous conditions including insufficient infrastructure, limited access to land, credit, health care and education. And no doubt, these challenges have been further aggravated by global food and economic crises, climate change, and the global pandemic with its attendant heightened vulnerability for women.
Given their overall economic productivity, large presence in the agricultural workforce, and familial cultural expectations and roles, women empowerment is highly essential more than ever.
This is why even as the whole world spotlights the urgent need for ‘Building rural women’s Resilience in the Wake of COVID-19’ by strengthening rural women’s sustainable livelihoods and wellbeing, Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI) has continued to work to support and empower rural women to build resilience, and catalyze their contribution to food security, nation-building, etc. at various levels: access to grants and funding opportunities, better enterprise management skills development, improvement on production and distribution capabilities, and access to larger markets.
Since inception in 2002, and in line with its mission to build a society that provides equitable opportunity for self-actualization through economic empowerment and sustainable livelihood initiatives, many rural women producer groups, women cooperatives and women-led enterprises have been supported through DDI-facilitated seed grants from diverse donors, contributing to the achievement of relevant SDGs pertaining to rural women and girls, and empowering rural women to participate in the local economy.
As the whole world unites to commemorate this day, DDI is adding its voice to the global call to leverage the day as an opportunity to advance the Build Back Better campaign after the COVID-19 Crisis.
Lucky Ihanza, a Communications Specialist, writes from Abuja