Making rural women, their needs and potential visible through the implementation of specific public policies is one of the great challenges pending in the Americas, both in terms of gender and development.
Experts gathered today at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), based in Costa Rica, in an event to celebrate the International Rural Women’s Day, which is commemorated every October 15, stated this.
The general director of IICA, the Argentinean Manuel Otero, emphasized the need to "make rural women visible" and regretted that "most rural women are at a disadvantage".
"They have to be heard, we must know what they think, what they need, what they suggest with silent shouts but with wisdom," Otero said.
Data provided in the event indicate that in the Americas there are 59 million rural women, who suffer various types of discrimination and exclusion, scourges that intensify in even more vulnerable populations such as the 11.5 million of them who live in indigenous villages and an almost equal number of afro-descendants.
Otero regretted that 50 percent of rural women do not have their own income and that less than a third own the land they live on.
In addition, three quarters of households headed by women do not have an identified source of income, which is due to the informality of employment or temporary jobs.
Otero expressed the commitment of IICA to accompany the countries in the construction of "solid and long-term public policies" for the benefit of rural women so that they have better employment conditions,
as well as access to health, education, financing and technologies.
As part of the International Rural Women's Day, IICA launched a book called "Rural Women Fighters: 28 Authorized Voices", in which women from five continents share articles on the subject.
"The book is a tribute to a key figure for food security and economic and social progress of the continent. We want to stimulate public discussion to encourage the implementation of quality policies that improve the condition of women living in the countryside," Otero said.
IICA also presented an exhibition of 24 photographs of rural women from Guatemala, Jamaica, Argentina and Brazil, in an alliance with Vogue Brazil magazine.
Costa Rican Minister of Agriculture, Renato Alvarado, stressed that rural women are "tireless" and that despite their efforts to raise their families, their work "remains invisible."
Alvarado acknowledged that among the problems faced by rural women are that banks do not give them credit, government entities do not give them land, and many are not subject to assistance and that there is also "a historical burden of male chauvinism in society."
Costa Rican Vice President and Chancellor Epsy Campbell and her counterpart from Panama, Isabel De Saint Malo, sent a video message.
Both made a call to "make the work of rural women visible" and to promote actions to be paid and supported according to their needs.
The president of the W20 Argentina, Susana Balbo, and the president of the Jamaican organization Treasure Beach Women's Group Benevolent Society, Celestine Anderson, also spoke.
Balbo said that rural women have particular needs that must be addressed through specific initiatives, while Anderson advocated for more opportunities for education, training, health and employment.