THE EDITOR: The productivity and face of the agriculture and fisheries sector has evolved significantly over the years as women have gone beyond their homes, farm gates and our shores.
Women have also excelled in several other facets of national life and continue to be the bedrock of the family and drivers in industry and communities.
Given the current economic circumstances and prospects facing the country we must acknowledge and revisit the fact that women have proven to be the social and economic foundations of rural communities and their resilience is a major contributor to sustainable livelihoods.
We must do more to shelter grassroots people as we seek to share the burden of adjustments across the country and economy.
It is a fact that rural women are often overlooked in agriculture, fisheries and development conversations and their contributions are often underestimated.
In September 2015 I noted that the economic fortunes of rural and coastal communities are pegged, in the most part, to agriculture, fisheries and tourism, and called on the incoming government to pursue and establish a rural development policy that is focused not on urbanisation, but on meeting the challenges faced by our rural and coastal areas while, importantly, unlocking their potential.
Considering the role of women in the sector’s policy planning signifies that they do not remain voiceless but their coping strategies, views and prerogatives are understood and incorporated as we move forward.
Further afield, I recently had the opportunity to visit the Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, India. In addition to understanding their work and approach to holistic and inclusive development, I was able to visit a rural village and meet with the self-help groups. They are able to impact the lives of 1.6 million women and adolescent girls through agriculture, health and nutrition programmes.
Instead of only standing in solidarity, let’s choose action — #PressforProgress. Let us work together towards raising the dreams and aspirations of our people, all people, across the world.
OMARDATH MAHARAJ, agricultural economist