Post Mortem

Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/14/2020 1:56:41 PM IST

 How far women of rural areas are familiar with International Day of Rural Women is really a qualm. Do they really get a single day to take rest, have good time, and have fun?  It is a question to pose. But globally 15th October is celebrated as International Day of Rural Women under a specific theme given by the United Nations each year. This year on International Day of Rural Women, UN celebrates International Day of Rural Women under the theme “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19,” to create awareness of these women’s struggles, their needs, and their critical and key role in our society.

Rural women and girls are leaders in agriculture, food security and nutrition, land, managing natural resource management and unpaid and domestic care work. They are at the frontline when natural resources and agriculture are threatened. In fact, 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 piped water rely on women and girls for water collection. Their contribution toward human development from various sectors whether it is economy, care giving, nurturing and even protection of the environment is indeed inconsiderable. A quarter of the world’s population - work as farmers, wage earners, and entrepreneurs. But Less than 20% of landholders worldwide are women. In rural areas, the gender pay gap is as high as 40%.Reducing the gap in labour force participation rates between men and women by 25% by the year 2025 could raise global GDP by 3.9%.If women in rural areas had the same access to agricultural assets, education, and markets as men, agricultural production could be increased, and the number of hungry people reduced by 100-150 million globally.

Women of rural India are extensively involved in the activities of agriculture. But the nature of involvement varies with the time context and region. Women’s role is extended from manager to landless labourer.

Firstly, women play the role of primary seed keepers, processors. They are experts in food production in the agricultural field to food preparation in the kitchen.

Secondly, due to globalization agricultural pattern shifted to capital intensive, chemical intensive systems, therefore women have to bear disproportionate cots of both displacement and health hazards.

Thirdly, Women are always double burden in food production, and due to gender discrimination they get lower returns for their work.

Fourthly, their life are more vulnerable because as the livelihoods and incomes of farmers in general, and women agriculturists in particular are eroded, they are displaced from productive roles, women in agriculture and their status is further devalued, while the patriarchal power of those who control assets and benefit from asset transfer due to globalisation is increased, other social processes are triggered which result in increased violence against women.

Women of the North East India play very significant role in food production and their contribution toward economic growth for the region can’t be denied while making policy to address urbanization viz smart cities. By shrinking the space of rural women in the name of urbanization government has not only snatching livelihood but also prohibiting right to space in the city. The globalization oblige to have trans-border trading including food, weakening the non-industrialised societies of India especially Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya etc. In due process subsistence production has been neglected by the policy makers. There is an urgent need to redefine the concept of development in India. Policy maker should also look into the social aspect of development which is beyond the infrastructural development. Whereas policy formulation, regional module should follow rather than western module of development of the society because our national composition is totally different from western counties.In the name of developmental changes the need and aspiration of rural women are always denied and devalued specially in various parts of Northeast India. Their traditional knowledge and skill are not archived and transcended to younger generation as much as it needed. This will devalue women in coming years. Identity of rural women particularly from North East India is based on various traditional knowledge and skills gathered from their elder generation.

Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men. Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and those they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion, and the effects of climate change.

As we know women are already in disadvantage position due to structural barriers, Covid-19 has aggravated the problem into more deeper for the women especially from rural areas. In the remote area they are unable to access to quality health services, essential medicines. Gender discrimination, superstitious beliefs, stereotypical values and taboos are also widening the gap between men and women, urban and remote as well.

Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19 in each and every nook and corner of the globe is truly very important and necessary, because the primary sector of the economy is served by rural areas and most of the contribution goes from women folk. Long run lockdown has witnessed the disconnection between rural and urban areas as well as it witnessed the breakdown of supply chain. Therefore, it is very important to give focus on the contribution of rural areas especially contribution of women toward the every aspects of life. Women empowerment is under veil if we talk about only the life of privilege women. It is the urgent need of understanding women life from various perspectives differently.

Sonali Boro, (Feedback may send to sonali741boro@gmail.com)

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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