In developing countries they are the economic driving force of society, however they have less access than men to technologies, lands and resources. The pandemic has further penalized women employed in agriculture. The expert Tabaglio, from the Catholic University: “Our sustainable projects in very poor areas are very satisfying”
The 13th International Day of Rural Women is celebrated on 15 October, with the aim of raising awareness of their key role in promoting rural and agricultural development, contributing to food security and the eradication of rural poverty. A date that opens a triad of consecutive World Days dedicated to crucial interconnected themes extensively explored in the Magisterium of Pope Francis: hunger and the rejection of misery.
Women, countryside, pandemic: supply at risk
The number of women and girls living in rural areas is 1.7 billion, more than a fifth of the world population. They are 43 percent of the agricultural workforce in developing countries but have less access than men to technologies, markets, financial assets and agricultural resources. Gilbert Houngbo, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, insisted on their penalisation during the pandemic today, calling the situation “unacceptable”. Being often employed informally and without social protection, women in agriculture have suffered a greater loss of jobs, following the restrictions on circulation imposed to manage the Covid emergency. Women aged 25 and 34 who live in predominantly rural areas are still 25 percent more likely than men to live in extreme poverty. Hence the appeal to governments to increase investment in the sector where women play a vital role in the growth of our food and in building thriving economies. If we do not act in support of this category – the United Nations warns – our food supply will be at risk.
Vulnerability of women in agriculture
The marginalization of women due to poverty and unemployment favors the risk that those living in rural areas may become victims of traffickers: this was the main concern expressed by Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, permanent observer of the Holy See in organizations and United Nations bodies for food and agriculture (FAO, Ifad and Pam), as part of a conference of the Fai-Cisl trade union on the theme: “Bridges not walls. Women between life and work “. On that occasion, the urgent need to ensure “that women are not forced to work too hard and work too hard, which aggravate the weight of her responsibilities at home and in the family, was stressed.
Professor Vincenzo Tabaglio, lecturer at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, seat of Piacenza, stands on the same line, from whose work however emerges the encouragement to focus on self-help projects on the spot that prove to be virtuous for the entire community of rural village families.
Development projects in very poor rural areas
Tabaglio illustrates the results of development projects financed by the Invernizzi Foundation in Milan, to ensure sustainable and safe food in some very poor regions of the world: in the north east of India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia. Collaboration actions are activated with the local people, listening to their needs and evaluating their means.
“Based on our experience we have seen that women respond very well to the organization in small groups coordinated by a technical pilot center, generally hosted by the local Church which has the advantage of being widespread enough in the territory and already close to families”, he explains. “The results can be seen because more and more families ask to join, above all ideas and attitudes begin to emerge, from agriculture to breeding and, almost in a self-generating way, a micro-credit system develops, a bit of trade, the possibility of financing loom works or kilns. It is more tiring than traditional methods – Tabaglio points out – but it allows you to have some extra money and free yourself from situations of undernutrition or malnutrition and also to significantly reduce, for example, childhood diseases thanks to water purification systems, where indispensable”.
Coldiretti: Italian primacy for female entrepreneurship
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