Rural women have been urged to engage in other economic activities instead of solely relying on agriculture for their development.
Oda Gasinzigwa, the minister for Gender and Family Promotion made the call on Saturday during celebrations to mark the International Day for Rural Women in Gicumbi District.
The event took place in Rushaki sector under the theme, “The development of a woman is a family’s pride: make it happen.”
“When we talk about national development we should link it to rural women as about 80 per cent of women farmers are in rural areas. This means that rural women have a tremendous contribution towards the nation’s economic growth. However, we want them to embrace other economic activities apart from agriculture to boost their economic status,” said Gasinzigwa.
At the same event, Beatrice Mukasine, the chairperson of the National Women Council said the occasion served to assess barriers to rural women development and seek ways to address them.
She said, “The government has done a lot in terms of gender equality and women empowerment. There is political will to recognise the value of women and their contribution towards national development. However, this should also be an opportunity for us to think about the challenges we face and seek ways to overcome them.”
Aimé Bosenibamwe, Governor of the Northern Province called for joint efforts to prevent early and unwanted pregnancies that he said impedes young girls from exploiting their full potential.
He said, “Early pregnancies are a big challenge which hinders the women, from shaping their future. We can’t have productive women if we do not help them to shape their future from an early age. We need to join efforts to ensure we have productive women who will keep on contributing actively to national development.”
Rural women enjoy rights
Yohanita Ntacyonungutse, a resident of Gitega cell in Rushaki Sector said they are no longer marginalised.
In the past, she said, only men could attend functions like this– but this has since changed, we are no longer marginalised or regarded as domestic property.
Frolence Mukamariza, another resident of Gitega cell said doors have been opened for women to engage in different economic activities unlike in the past.
“Women would not do anything else other than domestic activities and farming. Currently, doors are open, we can carry out other commercial activities,” she said.
For Jacqueline Betekile, another resident, rural women enjoy their right to property unlike in the past.
“In case of death of all parents, only boys had the right to share the property of the family. Women and girls were given only a small portion of the inheritance. We couldn’t complain but currently, the property is shared equally with both females and males,” Betekile explained.
The International Day of Rural Women is an opportune moment to amplify rural women’s voices and experiences from around the globe, according to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
In a message, Ban noted that the celebration comes just after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and urged global leaders to seize the opportunity offered by the new framework to transform rural women’s lives.