The former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, once stated, “Investing in girls and women is likely to prevent inter-generational cycles of poverty and yield high economic and societal returns.”
In actual fact, women who live in the rural areas are mostly farmers who also help their farmer-husbands directly on the farms. Most times, they do the hoeing, planting, weeding and harvesting with crude farm implements. One way or the other, this practice drastically reduces the volume of what they plant, having known that it will be very difficult to transport their farm produce to cities for sale. However, when we empower them with tractors, ploughers, planters, pesticides, herbicides and other modern farm implements, their productivity will increase astronomically, thereby facilitating food security beyond our imagination.
In most rural areas, our women have no access to functional health facilities. Whenever they want to give birth, they do that in a traditional way. When they fall sick, they hardly get good and prompt medical attention. In fact, most primary health centres in the rural communities have been abandoned. As a result of this, many rural women have lost their lives. Now, this is the time to rescue our women from the coarse hands of death. Now is the time the necessary stakeholders pay more attention to the primary health care of our women who live in the rural areas. This is the time to sensitize our women on the importance of medical care.
When we empower our rural women with the needed skills, it will not only improve our economy, it will also make our rural women self-reliant. They will be able to plan for themselves, their families and their future. When we see it as a duty to always enlighten women on matters that affect them, they will definitely feel our love, passion and respect. They won’t feel ignored, sidelined, rejected and dejected. When we give the best of education to the children of our rural women, sooner or later, these children will become future leaders with bright and promising future. However, accessibility should be a paramount factor in educating them.
It should be stated clearly that governments alone cannot do everything because it’s our collective efforts. However, it’s on record that the State Government of Osun has been doing her best through her rural development programmes to make life meaningful for not only rural women, but also residents of rural communities in the state. Some of these interventions of the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in this regard include:
- Construction of 100kilometres of roads in the rural areas across the state through the Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP). This is to enhance easy transportation of farmers and their farm produce as well as rural settlers from their communities to the city.
- Construction of health centres in rural areas to promote healthy living of rural settlers.
- Access of rural women to loan facilities in the ongoing National Women Empowerment Funds (NAWEF).
- Digging of boreholes in rural areas to provide clean and drinkable water system, among other laudable rural development programmes.
I use this medium to reiterate the resolve of this government not to rest on her oars at improving the living standard of our people in the rural areas.
Therefore, on this occasion of International Day of Rural Women, I implore every stakeholder in our dear state to harness their resources in bringing life very closer to our rural women in every way possible. They need to be empowered ; they need to be educated on issues that affect their living ; they need our close and frequent contact. In fact, they don’t need to be deserted because they are our people, our pride and sustainer of our economy.
Òsun tó tí ń dára kò ní bàjé oo!
HAJIA LATIFAT ABIODUN GIWA,
HONOURABLE COMMISSIONER FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN AFFAIRS,
STATE OF OSUN.