This year’s International Day of Rural Women is being celebrated globally on Thursday, October 15, on the theme “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19” to celebrate the vital role that rural women play in climate action.
The Day is being celebrated with a call by UN Women for action to create awareness of women’s struggles, their needs, and their critical and key role in our society, especially within the context of COVID-19.
International Day of Rural Women 2020 is being celebrated at a time world leaders have committed to gender equality in climate change policy and response, yet progress has still been slow. Rural Women and girls are leaders in agriculture, food security and nutrition, natural resource management, and unpaid and domestic care work. They are at the frontline when natural resources and agriculture are threatened.
According to the UN, globally, one in three employed women works in agriculture. Women also collect biomass fuels, manually process food materials, and pump water. Eighty percent of households without pipe-borne water rely on women and girls for water collection.
In the lead-up to International Day of Rural Women, there needs to be a global response by governments, faith-based organisations, civil society and NGOs, as well as the media, to the myriad of challenges facing women and girls globally. This call for global action is even more important considering that though women constituted a majority of the population worldwide, they were underrepresented in public-facing and decision-making roles, and often felt their voices were not heard.
In spite of the enormity of the task ahead, it is heart-warming to note that 25 years after the Beijing Conference, many civil society and non-governmental organisations across the world are implementing interventions to help women and girls to thrive. As a pan-African movement, CAMFED is revolutionising how girls’ education is delivered. Through a gold-standard system of accountability to the young people and communities we serve, we have created a model that radically improves girls’ prospects of becoming independent, influential women. Our impact increases exponentially through the Association of young women educated with CAMFED’s support. Together, we multiply the number of girls in school, and accelerate their transition to secure livelihoods and leadership.
A common thread in CAMFED’s programming has been the fact that interventions not only support marginalized children to access school, and overcome the barriers that keep them from learning once they are in school, but also support them on the path to independent livelihoods after completing school.
Through the CAMFED Association and Parent Support Groups (PSGs), women are leading action on the big challenges their countries face – from child marriage, and girls’ exclusion from education, to climate change. This unique pan-African network of lawyers, doctors, educators, and entrepreneurs now numbers more than 150,000, and is growing exponentially as more girls complete school and join them. Our collective efforts have already supported more than 3.3 million children to go to school across Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and nearly 5.7 million students have benefitted from an improved educational environment.
As we celebrate International Day of Rural Women, CAMFED, on behalf of the CAMFED Association, partners and community champions salute all rural women for being agents of change in fighting poverty, hunger and climate change. We join UN Women in calling for action to support rural women and girls and grow their capacities while appreciating their struggles, their needs, and their critical and key role in our society, especially within the context of COVID-19.