On the 15th October of every year, the world celebrates rural women and their contribution to in supporting their communities. This year, the United Nations (UN) themed the celebration “Empowering rural women: Ensuring food security and ending poverty”. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform joined the world in celebrating this day. The majority of rural women are living in adverse poverty and are part of the poorest of the poor. They depend on natural resources and their knowledge of Science for their livelihoods. Outside this scope, women in rural villages have to deal with what some of us in the world theorise and debate about.
To them, our topics are daily lived experiences. They encounter challenges like poverty discouragement – taking their material conditions and manifesting it in the psych and leaving them with no sense of hope. They further have to deal with poorly knowing and at the worst, not knowing about what is there to help them in their lives. This result in their voices being muted and their choices restricted – either by cultural boundaries or household abuse.
Dimakatšo Mononela is a young 21 year old rural woman from Bolobedu Ga – Femane. When asked about what she thinks the challenges to rural women are, she answered by saying “The greatest challenge that many amongst us face is the lack of access to information. For example, our kids are born into poverty because many in the rural communities are not well informed about sex education and family planning. We also get limited if not substandard access to health care”. The challenges she raised are witnessed in the daily lives of people living in villages. Teenage pregnancy is highest in rural areas.
“The best way to address these issues would be to have cooperation from different government departments solving a bigger problem through small initiatives that sum up to a bigger picture. The Department of Health together with the Department of Education and Rural development ought to task rural youth, specifically women with coming up with sustainable solutions. After all, they are the ones that can produce solutions to their lived unfavourable experiences”, Dimakatso concludes. What do you think are challenges facing rural women?