International Day of Rural Women

Dalit Women from FYF’s project in of Rae Bareli District, India

In the rural economies of both the developed and developing countries of the world, rural women are crucial. They participate in crop production and livelihood care, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and engage in off-farm activities to diversify their families’ livelihood. In order to recognise the contribution of rural women in food production and security, the UN General Assemble established the ‘International Day of Rural Women’ in December 2008,
to be observed every October 15th.

Due to the migration of men to cities to earn money in developing countries, rural women are left in charge of the family’s plot of land. In India for example, women farm half of the land, while in Malawi, women farmers produce 80% of the food grown. Despite this, many of the women still don’t have a voice in their communities and suffer worse
poverty than men, and so at FYF we place a large importance on working with rural women.

Working together to grow and sell

From 2005 to 2010, FYF worked with the women of Rae Bareli District, India. Through the project, 1,520 poor dalit women have been able to access loans, sustainable agriculture training and equipment such as irrigation.  Previously unable to feed their families for more than six to nine months a year, the self-help group members have been able to harvest enough both to feed their families all year round and sell a surplus. Once the women were producing a surplus, they identified the possibility of selling vegetables to bring in a regular income. A Vegetable Growers’ Association was established to buy the produce grown by the women and link them to markets so they could get a better price than they could have achieved as individuals. Through the project, the poor farming families were on average able to increase their income from agriculture by 315% from 8,249 Rupees (£113) in 2005 to 26,024 Rupees (£356) in 2010.

The Story of Sumitra

Sumitra Devi, the woman whose story I am sharing in each blog post, is another example of FYF’s work with rural women. Alongside teaching Sumitra sustainable farming techniques as explained last week, FYF through our local partners also helped the women in Sumitra’s village set up self-help groups (SHG) to discuss economic and social issues that arose in the village. Furthermore, the SHG members each saved a small amount of money in a group fund and were then able
to borrow funds at a fair and fixed rate of interest. As more loans were taken out and repaid, the fund grew and was able to support a growing number of business activities amongst the women, enabling them to develop sustainable
business practices to lift themselves out of poverty. Find out how else FYF helped Sumitra in our next blog.

Inspired to help people like Sumitra to build a better future? Get involved in Curry for Change and you can have fun with food and friends while helping to make real changesto people’s lives.

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