October 15th: Why Commemorate International Rural Women’s Day?

Carolina Cruz
The first International Day of Rural Women was celebrated 11 years ago. It was established by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2007 to recognize the contribution of rural women in promoting agricultural development, food security and poverty eradication in their development spaces.

Rural women represent more than a third of the world’s rural population and 43% of the rural workforce, according to the United Nations. Rural women are guarantors of food for their families and communities, they drive local economies and generally do so through environmentally friendly methodologies, thus contributing to the preservation of both climate and biodiversity.

Although the work of peasant women is fundamental for productive and social development, they suffer hundreds of disadvantages compared to urban women and their peasant peers.

According to UN Women, agricultural work is one of the main sources of employment for women living in rural areas of developing countries, generally informal, self-employed and with little or no access to social security services. As can be imagined, health is one of the most violated rights of rural women, who have 38% more chances of giving birth without medical assistance, for example. In terms of access to education, globally “more than half of all poor rural women do not have basic literacy skills”.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, by 2015 the rural population represented 21% of the total population, of which half are women, peasant compañeras who not only have to deal with the same gender inequalities experienced by urban women, but also, in some cases, have to face high levels of poverty, violence and displacement caused by irregular groups, anti-popular governments and large corporations in their thirst for appropriation of the best lands.

The struggle for land is one of the great difficulties faced by peasants in general. However, this reality affects women to a greater extent. According to figures from the NGO Oxfam, of the 58 million women living in the countryside in Latin America, only 30% own their land, which is a worrying number in itself, but “encouraging” when compared to the world average of agricultural land tenure: according to data from 104 countries, less than 13% of agricultural land belongs to women.
https://i0.wp.com/www.crbz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Montecarlo-D2-IMG_5336.jpgPredio Montecarlo, Sur del Lago
https://i2.wp.com/www.crbz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/El-Trebol-IMG_6678-2-1.jpgPredio El Trebol, Sur del Lago, Zulia
Predio La Primavera, Barinas

https://i2.wp.com/www.crbz.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/IMG_1316.jpgPredio El Hacha, Lara
Predio Montecarlo, Sur del Lago

In Venezuela, with the Land and Agrarian Development Law approved in 2002, a process of land redistribution began that has allowed a degree of democratization of the Venezuelan countryside. Within this struggle there have been and are many women who have been in the vanguard of land rescues and of the subsequent organization of land production, however little is known about the concrete reality of peasant women. We find them in the rescues throughout the country, often alone with their sons and daughters, producing with few supplies, raised with great sacrifices where they can see their sons, daughters, grandchildren and granddaughters grow up.

The Venezuelan peasant woman is in the vanguard of the struggle for a fairer distribution of the lands that were taken from us decades ago, they are the guarantors of food for their families, their communities and for the big cities that continue in resistance, they are the promoters and guardians of the urgent productive recovery of the countryside. Much remains to be done to fully achieve their rights. Let us continue to fight for that cause.