Rwanda: Civil Society - Rural Women Still Face Discrimination

15 October 2019

As the world marks the International Day of Rural Women, today, civil society organisations have said that rural women don't have access to technologies and are still subjected to unpaid care work

Through a women's umbrella, Pro-Femmes/Twese Hamwe, civil society organisations dedicated to empowering women and promoting gender equality say that unpaid care work done by the rural woman include farming, cooking food for the family and babysitting.

The International Day of Rural Women is being organized under the theme "Rural Women and Girls Building Climate Resilience."

Angelique Umulisa, the Project Coordinator for 11.11.1, one of the NGOs that advocate for women's rights, said in an interview that rural women are behind the beautiful things we get, raising and caring for children, the food we eat, and supporting the sick and the elderly.

"She (rural woman) is important and she can reach further if her work is recognized and she gets empowered."

More often, she said, the women are busy doing unpaid work and are unable to know what is happening elsewhere because they don't have access to information.

Eventually, they lose track of development, she added.

"Information is the most important thing in this world. If you did not get it, you can miss an available opportunity because you are unaware of it."

Climate change issues

According to the United Nations, rural women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, mostly informal, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households.

They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management and building climate resilience.

Yet, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty, the UN adds.

Globally, one in three employed women works in agriculture.

UN stated that a quarter of the total damage and loss resulting from climate-related disasters from 2006 to 2016 was suffered by the agricultural sector in developing countries, significantly impacting rural women and girls' food security and productive potential.

"Due to climate change, we are not able to know when it will rain or when drought will set in. Because the rural woman has no means to reserve water and irrigate their crops during drought, they do not get any yield," Umulisa said.

Moreover, Umulisa said, women's access to finance is still lacking, affecting their farming activities as they cannot afford relevant technologies.

Figures from the National Bank of Rwanda indicate that 74.5 per cent of people who received agricultural credit or loans in 2016 were men, with women accounting only for 25.5 per cent.

Umulisa observed that the rural woman's work should be eased such as through easy access to basic things like water, cooking gas so that she does not get too tired.

"If the rural woman spends a lot of time - say three hours to cook food using firewood, her work should be eased by cooking gas to prepare the food in 20 minutes," she said.

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