Rural women need help to pluck fruit of freedom: iLIVE
Rural women face several underdevelopment issues, including high unemployment and poverty, low education qualifications, insufficient and inadequate provision of basic needs services and are limited in access to most decision- and policymaking structures.
Women have been challenged to take the lead in the development of sustainable communities and participate in creating conditions that ensure service delivery.
Women should take the lead in creating conditions that will ensure infrastructure is available and social amenities are provided.
Women need to be the primary beneficiaries of government programmes on rural development, agricultural support and land reform as they constitute the majority of the population and are at the receiving end of development challenges.
We must ensure that women are liberated from the constraints of many centuries of land deprivation.
We should make sure that the responsible departments ensure that women constitute the majority of beneficiaries of these programmes. There are many challenges still facing women, although much progress had been made in the emancipation of women through various initiatives including legislative reforms.
Compared to 1994, more women now have access to basic services such as housing, education, health, free basic water and electricity. More needs to be done.
Women's advancement through stimulation of the economic, social, political, and environmental dimensions of development is crucial .
Advancing women will, among other things, reduce gender inequality, improve the lives of people in rural areas, especially women and youth, provide markets for both local factor inputs and locally produced goods and services, redistribute national income not only between rich and poor, but also between men and women, reverse urbanmigration by providing employment opportunities in the rural areas, and in general stimulate the rural economy.
This will depend on the appropriateness and timing of local and national government policy together with the private sector. The two need to play a critical role in making sure that women in South Africa are empowered.
The United Nations Convention in December 1995 stated that women make a significant contribution to the household and economic survival of their families, which includes unpaid labour and subsistence farming.
The convention further stipulated that rural women should be able to participate in development planning at all levels and, among other things, receive equal treatment in land and farming reform, including plans for resettlement, and enjoy adequate living conditions.
Gender imbalances are being addressed by the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development programme, which aims to expand opportunities for women and youth in rural areas as well as overcome the legacy of the racial and gender discrimination .
Enabling women to partake in land distribution is a positive step towards gender equity in land ownership.
The liberation of our country cannot be complete when a huge section of our nation is still confined to the margins of mainstream society because of disempowerment, illiteracy, poverty, and lack of access to needed resources.
We cannot claim to be free from oppression when we read daily in the media harrowing accounts about the abuse of women and children. The struggle for gender equality is a struggle for human freedom.
Our liberation will remain incomplete until the total and unconditional liberation of women is achieved. As women bear the brunt of poverty , we have to ensure that they also enjoy the fruits of freedom.