Today we salute the rural women of our country on World Rural Women’s Day. I want us all to pay special attention to the very important roles that rural women play in our society; roles that we sometimes take for granted.
The theme of this year’s observance is Rural Women at the Heart of Innovation. The rural women I meet in my travels across Jamaica are nothing if not innovators. They skilfully manage their duties to family, community and country while ensuring that each is well served.
In the face of the global food crisis, we turn to our rural folk – including rural women – to help to feed our nation; and they have found innovative ways to respond to the needs despite the threats to their own businesses by the economic downturn, inadequate technology and climate change.
Despite progress over the years and their best efforts, many of our rural women still lack access to land, credit, technology, training and the important information to make the best use of their resources and skills.
The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, through the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and the Social Development Commission has been working to improve this situation by collaborating and liaising with rural women, building capacity and assisting with community development. We have taken a holistic approach to rural women’s development and empowerment, assisting with skills training, self-esteem building and educating them on pertinent gender issues and providing technical support. Rural development without the integral input of rural women is no development.
The Ministry of Agriculture, through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority has also been providing support to rural women.
I encourage all Jamaicans to join with the rest of the world in celebrating the achievements of rural women; to acknowledge where more work needs to be done; and to commit ourselves to finding solutions.

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