October 15 is World Rural Women's Day
October 15 is the day of the world’s peasant women, fisherfolk women, women agricultural workers,women farm workers and indigenous women. It is the World Rural Women’s Day. It was declared as such to pay tribute to the rural women of the world.
Let us celebrate our immense contribution in producing the world’s food: we number 1.6 billion worldwide, and we produce the greater part of the world’s food: 60% in Asia, 80% in Africa and 30-40% in Latin America and Western countries. Let us celebrate our significant role as bearers, nurturers and reproducers of today and tomorrow’s labor force that keep the wheels of our countries’economies going.
But as we celebrate our significance, we likewise recognize the continuing barriers in our quest for real empowerment and development. We continue to be denied access to productive resources such as land, credit and technology, remain discriminated in the labor market, are denied control over property and earned income, and are subjected to various forms of abuse and violence, both state perpetrated and patriarchal thinking incited.
We continue to be poor, despite the fact that we work harder and longer each day. This is taking a heavy toll on our health and most especially our reproductive functions. Ill fed and overworked women stand to give birth to malnourished babies who in turn will mother a next generation of sick babies.
We also remember our sisters, who have become victims of disasters, natural or man made. They have experienced the ravages of tsunami, earthquakes, floods and mudslides, and militarization of their communities and wars just like the males., but as they face death and suffer the havoc wrecked by these disasters, our sisters still have not been spared from sexual abuse and violence.
Imperialist globalization through its various instrumentalities, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the World Trade Organization have exacerbated our already difficult situation. As paying debt service and military spending eat up a large chunk of our national budget, fund allocation for basic services such as reproductive health services and agriculture production subsidies, essential in the performance of our roles as producers and reproducers of life are the first to go. Worse whatever resources that remain are lost to corruption and plunder of government coffers.
The accession of our countries and the inclusion of agriculture into WTO trade rules have left our agriculture in an unprecedented destruction, resulting in unimaginable misery, poverty and hunger for us rural women and our families. Millions have been displaced from their lands due to land grabbing and conversion of agricultural lands to other uses. Millions were driven to bankruptcy as local markets are flooded with cheap and highly subsidized imported agricultural products. The twin WTO policies of market access and elimination of subsidies have substantially weakened the productive capacity of local producers and have greatly threatened our food security.
Sisters, let us take this opportunity to voice out our issues as rural women. Let us take this opportunity to bring out these issues within our organizations, in the streets, and in the various hallways of power. More importantly, let us mark this day the beginning of our renewed commitment to work more to eradicate the barriers and constraints imposed on us.Let us mark this day the strengthening of our determination to tread the path towards empowerment and emancipation.
Sisters, a meaningful and fruitful observance of our day, The World Rural Women’s Day!