Women and girls in rural areas have contributed significantly to the country’s economy and their work to advance rural communities must be recognised and acknowledged.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Children and Family Affairs Dr Cedrick Alependava made the remark during the recent celebration of International Day of Rural Women held at Koela Village in Savo, Central Islands Province.
The event which falls annually on October 15 raises awareness of rural women’s participation in development processes with a focus on their needs and rights and highlights rural women’s contributions to sustainable development, household food security, safeguarding traditional knowledge, biodiversity, and peacebuilding and so much more.
PS Alependava said women have contributed much to the economy of the country, in the sustainability of rural households and the general wellbeing of the community.
He stressed that women have fewer opportunities for economic participation than men, less access to basic and higher education, greater health and safety risk and less political representation therefore women must be empowered to break the cycles of violence, injustice and inequalities.
He said this year’s commemoration theme encourages rural women and girls to rise and claim their basic right to sustainable development.
The Ministry of Women, Children and Family Affairs through the Women’s Development Division supports provincial governments to develop provincial women’s policies to ensure rural women are empowered to transform their status to improve their livelihoods and ensure full participation in the sustainable development.
The Premier of Central Islands Provinces, Honourable Polycarp Galaigu said a success story of women in Central Islands Province in the area of economic empowerment was the establishment of women’s saving clubs. He said currently there are 64 active savings clubs in the province and positive stories can be heard on the benefits of the savings initiative at the family level, from paying school fees, meeting household needs, improving living conditions and growing small businesses. The Premier acknowledges the national government and partners for the support in empowering women in his province and acknowledges that more work is needed to ensure rural women are empowered and have access to information and improved livelihood.
Meanwhile Chairlady of Koela Village Susan Parua who hosted the celebration acknowledges the Central Islands government and National government and development partners for bringing the celebration to the rural women. She said this is the first ever-large program hosted for women in Savo Island.
“For us development means being able to pay for our children’s school fees, having access to health care, education, water and sanitation. In light of this year’s theme, it is our hope that our women will be equipped enough to participate in sustainable development in our different communities’’
The two days celebrations began with a parade by all participating women groups followed by traditional and modern queen shows, a choir competition, traditional food demonstration, live skills training and games.
The successful hosting of the event was made possible through support of the UN Women and the Australian Government under its Gender Program.