Earlier this month the world celebrated The United Nations’ International Day of Rural Women, a day that recognises the vital role rural women play in improving agriculture and rural development.
“When we give rural women access to productive agricultural and natural resources, we empower them. They, in turn, can contribute more to alleviating hunger and boosting the ability of their communities to cope with the effects of climate change, land degradation and displacement. This benefits all people,” said Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General.
(READ MORE: Women in Africa still at the short end of progress)
Ki-moon says in order for rural women on the continent to progress issues such as discrimination and depravation need to be dealt with. Rural women also lack access to land, markets, finance, social protection and services. A large number of them face serious security risks during daily tasks such as collecting water or fuel.
From the woman in the rural villages to women in the corporate, issues of gender inequality and culture are making it difficult for them to rise.
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Nomvula Makgotlho, chief director of gender and women empowerment at South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, says that the issue of female transformation is a very sensitive subject.
“I think the issue here is that so many people, so many countries, so many government leaders are talking empowerment of women, but the talk does not match the action,” she said.
The question is why is it taking so long for the issues of women to become the forefront of economical agendas.
Samantha Richmond, Afrobarometer Operations Manager for Capacity Building, says historical gender stereotypes remain a major issue.
“We are living in a patriarchal society, internationally. Unfortunately that is the social fabric of our society, not only in South Africa or in Africa. The gender roles between women and men still put women at a disadvantage,” she said.
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Richmond adds that the place to start implementing gender equality is at home in a cultural setting.
“Boys leave their homes with a sense that they are superior, hence we are sitting with an unfortunate situation of sexual violence against women and girls. It is that superiority which is implanted in the minds of our boy children who grow up to be men who think that everything they can require they can get,” she said.