By Fatoumatta K Jallow

‘Activista’ the Gambia, in collaboration with Action-Aid International, on Monday October 15th 2018, official inaugurated the Rural Women Assembly to discuss agro-ecology, resilience building and land rights in the Gambia. The event was held at a local hotel in Senegambia.

Omar Badjie, Executive Director of Action-Aid the Gambia, said the day was unique and fitting for conducting a national land policy forum and for the inauguration of the executive of the rural women assembly, which is globally commemorated as International Rural Women’s day. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘green up the blue’ and aims to recognize the invaluable contribution of rural women in development, and calls for more effort in the fight against climate change.

Badjie said Rural Women Assembly is a continental initiative for women’s land rights advocacy. According to the United Nations, rural women in our part of the world constitute about 43% of the labour force in the agriculture sector and they are key players in food production, processing and preparation.

“Rural women play an important role in the marketing of agricultural produce, and the upkeep of their families. The fact sheet further indicates that rural women constitute a quarter of the world’s population and their livelihood is mostly dependent on agriculture and natural resources,’’ he said; that despite the crucial and critical role played by rural women in making our world a better place to live in, they remain the most vulnerable with limited access, ownership and control over natural resources, particularly land which is a fundamental resource for agricultural production.

Amie Fabureh, the Chairperson of the National Women’s Council, said the story of every rural woman is about drudgery, fatigue, hard work, double discrimination and marginalization; that they have little or no access to social amenities, and they are poorer than their male counterparts in rural communities and their female counterparts in the urban areas.

“Rural women spend all their time working in their farms, gardens, cooking in the kitchen for the family; that their work is less recognized in the community and in national development, even though they have little or no access to control and ownership over land. In conclusion Fabureh said if structural discrimination faced by women is not halted, the country will continue to be in a state of underdevelopment, and that this can wreck our economy.

Bintou Gassama Jammeh, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Vice President, highlighted the contribution of rural women in national development; that they encounter challenges in gaining access to and control and ownership over productive resources especially land.

“In the Gambia and the world over, we recurrently see the important role women play, in ensuring sustainable rural livelihoods and food security, as key drivers in food production, processing and preparation,’’ she concludes.

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