Rural women represent over a quarter of the world's population, and in developing countries they account for about 43% of the agricultural work force. Economic empowerment of rural women is hugely important to community development, and today we honour and support these women.
The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008, to recognise “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”
Learning for Life and Rural Self-Reliance Development Centre (RSDC) are implementing a livelihoods project in the Nuwakot district of Nepal, funded by DfID. The project supports training of groups of Dalit and other marginalised rural women to grow and sell vegetables to support themselves and their families. As well as developing livelihoods, the project also teaches the women about their rights and entitlements, allowing them to have a voice in local decision making.
The project is also supporting the construction of four ‘collection centres’, in easily accessible locations, where the women can prepare and present their products, decide on a fair price, and sell them in a more systematic way. Since the earthquake in April 2015, growing and selling vegetables is many people's only possible livelihood, as they lost their property and animals in the disaster.
The Dalit women have also formed groups and started a savings programme, from which they have accumulated savings of approximately £6000 equivalent Nepali rupees over 18 months. They plan to register as a cooperative next year, so that their money can be used as a revolving loan fund.
This project has facilitated the process of building a friendly working relationship with local government, and the women now have easy access to all government resources available. Furthermore, the project initiated marketing strategies that the group members say they have found very useful, and have helped to build their confidence.
Two of the women's groups are also raising money to help build a better water supply for the vegetable-growing project. Thanapati village in the Nuwakot district is very far from the nearest water source, meaning the community has no safe drinking water or water for farming, and needs to buy a low-cost shallow tube well, which costs £900, to carry water from the nearest river to their village.
Another village in Nuwakot district, Suryamati, is mountainous, and so there is a severe shortage of water. The women's groups in this village have received training on vegetable gardening and have also established links with agriculture departments for technical support. They are now raising money to build five plastic-lined ponds, which cost around £200 each, to collect and conserve rain water so they can farm throughout the year.
On International Day of Rural Women, you can donate here to support these incredible women.
International Day of Rural Women #IDRW
Vegetables grown by the women's groups in Nuwakot