NEW YORK – The International Day of Rural Women is observed annually on October 15. The event particularly recognizes the needs of the millions of rural# women in developing countries who are often pivotal to ensuring household food security.
Women living in rural environments across the 10/40 Window suffer from generational, multi-dimensional, and abject poverty. Their survival – and the survival of their children – often depends on subsistence farming.
Subsistence farming is successful only when the harvest is sufficient to feed the family, and there is enough additional product to sell to their neighbors or at market. Money earned from these sales provides funds for the families’ other necessities.
The United Nations reports that the survival of 2.5 billion people depends upon the subsistence farmers who produce nearly 80% of the food in the 10/40 Window.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development indicates that subsistence farming families …
“inhabit some of the most vulnerable landscapes, such as hillsides, rangelands, semi-arid and arid lands, deltas and flood plains, and rely on climate-sensitive natural resources to make a living.
“As a result, they are at significant risk from increasing temperatures, erratic rainfall, pest infestations, rising sea levels, and extreme events such as floods, droughts, landslides, typhoons, and heatwaves.”
In addition, these small farm tenants “often lack secure land tenure and resource rights, and access to markets and finance.”
Statistics supplied by Farming First, however, force us to focus on the actual burden that many rural farming women face.
- 75% of the crops on small farms are weeded by hand.
- Hand weeding takes up 50% to 70% of the small farm labor.
- 90% of the hand weeding is done by women.
Rural# women carry that burden day after day, month after month, year after year, whether the crop has a good yield or not.
When times are particularly difficult, rural# women tend to act as their families’ ‘shock absorbers.’ That is, they will feed their children and husbands and go without themselves. They do so to keep their families reasonably healthy, else they must spend additional time taking care of their sick loved ones.
We hope this brief article will remind us all that rural women in developing countries face much greater problems than worrying about why their rose bushes are not blooming as they should.
We urge you to investigate the plight of rural women, to pray for them, and to ask the Lord what He would have you to do to help.
To learn more about the status of vulnerable rural women around the world, click on this link to access a library of women-focused articles, or click on the source materials listed below.
- United Nations, International Day of Rural Women – October 15
- Global Dimension, International Day of Rural Women
- Farming First, The Female Face of Farming
- South African Government, International Day of Rural Women 2020
- Women Watch, Rural Women and Development
- International Fund for Agricultural Development, Official Website
- Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, International Day of Rural Woman