Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) joins hands with the rest of the world in commemorating International Day of Rural Women.
The day, which was established under the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 is this year running under the theme Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All. In part, it is a day to celebrate the critical role and contribution of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.
With the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in food insecurity, with estimates as high as 2.7 billion people affected, representing a 20 percent increment. Women have also borne the additional burden of unpaid work whilst in many households they have taken on the responsibility of being the sole breadwinner owing to job losses by their spouses.
The economic burden that women have to shoulder is made worse by the unequal power relations that exist worldwide, that see them being the primary source of labour with regards food production and processing, but at the same time being the ones most deprived of access to land title.
VISET is well aware of the important role that women play in the Informal Economy, given that they are in the majority not only of our membership, but within the entire sector, and more broadly in the country. This calls upon all concerned to ensure that the lot of rural women is uplifted if there can be any progress in attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #2; Zero Hunger and #5; Gender Equality.
As an organisation, being cognisant of the fact that access to land continues to be a work in progress for rural women, we have begun, in concert with our partners and government agencies, training programmes to teach rural women on value addition practices. These programmes are designed to maximise monetary rewards for vendors by cutting down on post-harvest losses as well as through preservation methods, providing a buffer when certain crop varieties are not in season. We shall also soon engage communities in perennially dry regions of the country in the farming of small grains.
VISET applauds efforts made by government in seeking to transform rural areas through establishing food processing hubs in these areas, as we believe such developments will in turn spur greater provision of basic services closer to home for women, thereby ensuring that there will be less time lost in practices such as sourcing of firewood and fetching of water, hopefully then ensuring that the girl child is given access to education in order for them to reach their full potential.
Prepared by VISET Information and Publicity Department