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International Rural Women's Day 2022

International Rural Women's Day 2022

'Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All'

Approximately 200 rural women from different walks of life including members of the Rural Women Assembly, civil society organisations, government officials and other dignitaries gathered at Farafenni Lower Basic School premises in North Bank Region, to commemorate International Rural Women’s Day.

The International Rural Women’s Day is a day set aside by the United Nations to recognize the role of rural women in enhancing agriculture and improving food security. This year’s theme is: “Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All”.

In the Gambia, the commemoration of the day was facilitated by ActionAid International The Gambia in partnership with the Catholic Relief Services and United Purpose, as one of the activities of the EU-funded project on ‘Empowering Civil Society Organisations to Mobilize Citizen Actions towards Green Economy and Environmental Sustainability in Central River and North Bank Regions.

The event commenced with a procession from behind Farafenni Market to the venue.

Delivering his statement, the Executive Director of ActionAid International The Gambia Mr. Omar Badji said that the commemoration of the International Rural Women’s Day should go beyond singing, clapping and dancing, but we should all reflect on the achievements of women from the previous year to date. It is also a day to assess the challenges faced by women and how to address those challenges, and then forge ahead.

“We are all aware that in The Gambia, women take the lead in food production and the upkeep of their families. This year’s theme for Rural Women’s Day is: ’Women Cultivating Good Food for All’. Women have been into food cultivation for a very long time, but the challenge is how do we cultivate good and abundant food all year round, without relying on imported rice or other food items. This is what our focus should be.” said Mr. Badji.

Badji also stated that women are facing a lot of challenges when it comes to access, control and ownership over land. In most cases, he said, women are allocated with the most infertile farmlands by men. In addition, most of those lands are borrowed lands. According to him, in the rural areas, there are more women farmers than men, yet most of the burden associated with farming depends heavily on women.
“If we all agree that women cultivate most of the food that we consume, yet they are grappling with access and permanent ownership over land, do you think they will have the courage to invest on those lands to develop them? Even if some women have access and control over land, they lack the productive resources. If we want to achieve food security, we have to look at the challenges that women are facing and address those challenges” Badji concludes.

The Director of Agriculture Mr. Saikou Sanyang commended the women for commemorating the International Rural Women’s Day. He reminded the women that people’s survival depends entirely on agriculture because food and nutrition security come from agriculture. “Farming should be seen as a business and not just to cultivate limited quantity of food that will suffice the needs of our families. We should farm for our feeding, process our harvest, and then export the surplus. That will bring income for the government. 80% of the food we consume is cultivated by women. Therefore, their role in agriculture is very important.” he said.

Every International Rural Women’s Day, rural women come up with resolutions or demands that are forwarded to the government through the Ministry of Agriculture for action. The resolutions highlight their needs and concerns for empowerment and welfare of their families.

Fatou Trawally, the Secretary to the Rural Women’s Assembly, read the demands, some of which include:

  • Allocation of land to women for sustainable agriculture and food security
  • Provide mechanized farm implements, fertilizer and climate smart seeds variety, support women vegetable gardens with proper fencing and adequate water supply
  • Develop agricultural market facilities in the rural areas to cater for women agricultural products
  • Develop regional processing centres for vegetable products of women vegetable producers
  • Increase poultry production through providing subsidies for poultry feeds and materials, initial capital and cooling facilities, and link them to markets
  • Government to strengthen and enforce policies that will include women’s participation in forest management committees,
  • Government to bring projects and programmes that support rural women’s resilience against the negative effects of climate change
  • Government to investigate maternal death in the country and address the issues, have adequate drugs at our public health centres for better health care for all.

Mr. Amulie Touray, the Director of Catholic Relief Services, delivered the closing remarks. He thanked all the partners and the organizing committee for making 2022 Rural Women’s Day successful, especially the EU for funding the Green Economy Project that facilitated the commemoration of the day.

Touray cited that over 51% of the Gambian population is women so they play a crucial role in nation building and account for a substantial labour force with significant contribution to food security.

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