Speech

Today we want to celebrate and recognise the role of our rural women and their contribution to rural development and food security. The celebration of World Rural Women’s Day, is essentially to raise the profile of rural women, and to sensitise the public about their largely unrecognised roles and to promote action in their support. This year’s theme, Climate Change and Food Security: Rural Women are part of the solution, speaks to the role which women can and must play in addressing these two critical issues which have the potential to impact the very future of mankind.
All human beings are directly or indirectly affected by climate change, but more so women from rural communities, as global statistics indicate that rural women are dependent on agriculture and are responsible for half the world’s food production. Yet, farmers are still generally perceived as ‘male’ and the valued contribution of rural women to food security is frequently underestimated and overlooked in development strategies.
Over the years rural women have remained ‘invisible’, due partly to the fact that there is a lack of sex disaggregated data to highlight their role. As a result their contribution is poorly understood and largely undervalued. The contribution of our rural women to rural development and to our nation as a whole cannot be over-emphasised and their welfare and concerns must be an integral part of our development policies and programmes.
In order to address some of the effects of climate change and to engage rural women as part of the solution for food security, they must be trained to adopt techniques of sustainable agricultural practices. These techniques will increase their knowledge through education, training, capacity building and appropriate technology, to enable them to have a positive impact on climate change.
If our rural women are not educated sufficiently about the impact of climate change and about food security issues they will be faced with the challenge of producing in a harsher environment in which to feed a larger population.
I wish to commend the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, which continues to liaise with our rural women, to assist them with skills training, self-esteem building and to educate them on pertinent gender issues including gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health rights and HIV/AIDS.
Let me also express gratitude to other organisations which work directly and indirectly with rural women. Agencies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, the Social Development Commission and the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers, that collaborate with rural women to confront issues and obstacles that retard the pace of their personal and economic development. I encourage these agencies to continue the work to raise the profile of our rural women and to assist them to improve the quality of their lives.
I invite all Jamaicans today, to celebrate our rural women and to recognise their valuable contribution to rural development and to the nation as a whole.