We are lucky to live in a country that has long since abandoned the image of the damsel in distress. Even Disney princesses now save themselves and send unsuitable “saviours” packing. But despite the great strides being made in gender equality, we are still failing rural women, particularly women farmers.
November is the cruelest month for landless families in the Indian Sundarbans, the largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world lying primarily in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.
Around the world, but especially in the planet’s poorest regions, women represent a life force that renews itself daily, sometimes against all odds.
During the dry season, when dirt roads are cracked from the relentless heat, the sight of women walking miles, balancing pots of water on their heads, is common in rural Sri Lanka.
It is a tried and tested truth that when women come together in groups they can address their issues more powerfully than they can as individuals.
Gertrude Mkoloi earns a living harvesting maize on a small piece of land in rural Zimbabwe. Or at least she used to.
At Gakoromone Market in Meru, in Kenya’s Eastern Province, Ruth Muriuki arrives in a pickup full of tomatoes and cabbages despite the scarcity of rainfall in the area, thanks to the greenhouse technology she uses on her farm – and microcredit.
This year’s unusually rainy season in Peru is having a negative effect on the wellbeing and health of women in rural areas who are forced, for example, to spend three times as much time walking to collect firewood and water. But the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the problems they face.
Eight years ago when Mary Sitali’s husband divorced her, by sending a traditional letter to her parents saying that he no longer wanted her and they could "marry her to any man of your choice - be he a tall or a short man, the choice being entirely yours," she returned to her village in rural Zambia with their two children and no way of supporting them.
Violence, torture and other forms of cruel treatment are on the rise for women in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Agriculture currently provides a livelihood for roughly 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and landless workers, of which nearly half – close to 560 million – are women.
"Sometimes I think of giving it all up,” Aura Canache, a small farmer in Venezuela, told IPS. “My neighbours get loans and aid, but I never have. The farm assistance plans are for men, although there are many women living off the countryside too.”
When the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held its inaugural meeting in London back in 1946, the U.S. delegate, Eleanor Roosevelt, read an open letter to "the women of the world" calling on governments to encourage women everywhere to participate in national and international affairs.
"I had never worked before, and now I produce kilos and kilos of dried fruit to sell. They taught me how to dry peaches, tomatoes, peppers and grapes, and I decided on my own to try it with melons and pears - and they were spectacular," Susana Robledo, a proud new entrepreneur from rural Argentina, told IPS.