Rural life in Latin America and the Caribbean continues to be marked by poverty and inequality compared to the towns and cities where the vast majority of the population lives. A new focus on rural life in the region could help reveal and address the challenges and neglect faced by people in the countryside.
Five years ago, farmer Sehlisiwe Sibanda would walk into a nearby forested area to fill a scotch cart with huge wood logs for cooking and heating; a pile of firewood would last her a week during the summer.
But now she does not need a cartful of huge logs. Small branches and twigs are enough to last for more than a month.
There is an irreparable connection between culture and the seas: loss of land due to rising sea levels and loss of livelihood due to changing fish migration patterns are having a massive impact on coastal communities.
Aditi Agarwal, a brilliant computer science engineer and Gold Medalist, once thrived in the tech world, contributing to innovations at Microsoft. However, she felt a calling to address real-world challenges, particularly those related to carbon emissions and plastic pollution. In pursuit of a nobler cause, she joined a company called Go Rewise, a youth-led initiative in India dedicated to recycling PET bottles through a circular economy approach.
On August 22, 2023, Women's Affairs Ministers from the Commonwealth huddled in a room at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, they were meeting in person.
Hemmed in by poverty, with barely two days of school a week, and often at risk of unwanted pregnancy or the uncertain prospect of emigration, young women and adolescents are among the main victims of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.
Although women account for more than three-quarters of the agricultural labour force and manage 40 percent of small-scale farms, historically, they neither owned nor controlled the land because land rights were passed down to male relatives. It is a historic gender injustice whereby women could only access land through close male relatives.
They do not have a pension nor financial support from families or relatives, but they have themselves. Now they have become collectors of plastic waste, which they turn into products as they battle for survival - earning money from the growing plastic pollution in Zimbabwe.
Women in pastoralist areas of East Africa are critical to the health of livestock in their communities, holding the key to effective animal vaccination campaigns meant to protect herds against deadly diseases.
They are, therefore, an important part of any vaccination strategies designed to guard the animals against killer outbreaks and need to be involved in such efforts for them to be successful.
Bukes Saliu wakes up very early every workday to beat the gruesome Lagos traffic to head to a job quite unusual for a woman to engage in Nigeria. She is a forklift operator in one of the busy depots in the coastal city, a task traditionally meant for men in the West African country.
In Bolivia, more and more women have gone from being homemakers or street vendors to joining the noisy world of engines, their hands now covered in grease after learning that special touch to make a car work. But they frequently have to put up with machismo or sexism, injustice and mistrust of their skills with tools.
Emigrating from Cuba was an agonizing decision for Ana Iraida. She left behind family and friends; in her backpack she carried many hopes, but also the fear of facing dangers on the journey to the United States.
"I thought of studying journalism, because of the example of Gloria Maria," a famous black TV journalist who died of cancer in February 2023, said mathematician Luciana Elias, while discussing the scarce female participation in exact sciences research in Brazil.
Women social activists recognize that gender equality is gaining ground in Chile, but maintain that there is still a long way to go to turn into reality the promises to "level the playing field" between women and men, while they highlight the importance of addressing the issue of care work.
It promised to be the most defining, groundbreaking, and transformative protocol on African women’s rights. Specific in its approach, broad in its reach, and unique in its all-encompassing nature, covering issues such as HIV/Aids, widow inheritance and property disinheritance in a most unprecedented manner.
They haul many kilos of recyclable materials on their backs but receive little in return. These Bolivian women who help clean up the environment from dawn to dusk are fighting for recognition of their work and social and labor rights.
Using a few dry sticks as fuel, Margarita Ramos of El Salvador lit the fire in her wood stove and set about frying two fish, occasionally fanning the flame, aware that the smoke she inhaled could affect her health.
At five in the morning, when fog covers the streets and the cold pinches hard, Mercedes Marcahuachi is already on her feet ready to go to work in Pachacútec, the most populated area of the municipality of Ventanilla, in the province of Callao, known for being home to Peru's largest seaport.
"The rainwater tanks are the best invention in the world for us," said Maria de Lourdes Feitosa, 46, who recalls the deadly droughts of the past in Brazil's semiarid Northeast region.
For years, self-employed and unemployed women in Zimbabwe formed neighbourhood "clubs" where they pooled money together for everything from buying bulk groceries to be shared at the end of the year to meeting funeral expenses.
"The biodigester really gives a huge boost to those who have the courage to do things," said Maria das Dores Alves da Silva, based on her own experience as a 63-year-old small farmer.