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International Day of Rural Women: Women Empowerment Amidst COVID-19

Women farmers typically achieve yields 20-30% lower than men due to unequal access to productive resources and services, yet closing this gender gap could reduce the number of malnourished people by 12-17%. This is according to Farming First.

October 15th which is the UN International Day for Rural Women was specifically established to reduce this gender gap and highlight the vital role rural women play in enhancing agricultural, rural development, improving food security, food production, and eradicating rural poverty.

This year’s theme being “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19,” awareness is created on the urgent need to strengthen rural women’s sustainable livelihoods and well-being. It is important to recognize the amount of work rural women and girls are putting in to ensure natural resources and agriculture are not affected in the wake of this pandemic.

Women have been on the frontline responding to the pandemic this year. In Kenya, a woman-led company, “Kimplanter Seedlings and Nurseries” has proven to be resilient amidst everything. Kimplanter Seedlings and Nurseries is a client under the AgriBiz program that is funded by the European Union and Danida and implemented by Kenya Climate Innovation Center with an aim to supporting at least 2,400 youth and women in agribusiness activities. The company which is promoting food security for a sustainable future through its founder Caroline Mukuhi has decided to create awareness that it is time for people to revisit the fundamental adage of agriculture being the backbone of the economy.

The youthful woman who is the 2019 winner of the Best Youth in the Agriculture category enlightens people to always look for opportunities beyond the white-collar jobs. She takes pride in the fact none of her employees are home regardless of the impact of COVID-19. This is all because of the mixed fortunes she has received from the pandemic. Venturing in agriculture is the best thing at the moment now that people have lost jobs and trying so hard to make ends meet. She is proudly an outstanding farmer and has played a unique role in food production and agribusiness development that is providing propagated seedlings to farmers and offering extensive services for free to them.

Women play a special role within agriculture and should be given access to resources and be able to make decisions just like their male counterparts. Women who have gone beyond their means to help curb the COVID-19 situation should be celebrated and supported.

Rural women have gone through a lot already and Covid-19 has continued to make everything worse. They have less access to health care, essential medicines, and vaccines. This is the time to try and alleviate the care burden and have an inclusive distribution, especially in marginalized areas.  Let us create awareness of women’s struggles, their needs, and their critical roles in our society at the moment.

The main objective of this year’s theme is to urge stakeholders to take action and support women not only to rebuild their lives after COVID-19 but to increase their resilience to be better prepared for future crises.