International Day Of Rural Women: Investing In Social Capital - Eastern Mirror
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International Day of Rural Women: Investing in social capital

By Our Correspondent Updated: Oct 15, 2019 11:22 pm
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Seeds on display at the farmers’ convention on Tuesday at the SIRD in Kohima.

Our Correspondent
Kohima, Oct. 15 (EMN): On the occasion of International Day of Rural Women, the Nagaland unit of the Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch, a forum for the rights of women in farming, conducted a programme ‘Nagaland Women Farmers Convention,’ on October 15 at the SIRD in Kohima.
The programme was conducted with the theme, “Sustainable and services for the empowerment of rural women and girls.”

Addressing the convention was N Hushili Sema, principal secretary to the government of Nagaland as the special guest. In her address, she maintained that ‘women farmers’ consist of approximately 70% of the farmers’ population and claimed that ‘women are the providers of the society.’

Making assertions on the role of Naga women, the official claimed that Naga women are the ‘backbone of the Naga state economy.’ She urged the ‘women farmers’ to continue working together.

“We are the custodian of the seeds,” said Sema, adding that Climate Change is not hearsay or a rumour but a reality. She urged the gathering to be prepared to adapt and to preserve seeds through traditional means.

The government official further urged the farmers to take the opportunity of exchanging ideas and knowledge and building relationship.

Khesheli Chishi of the forum welcomed the participants at the event. She gave an introduction about the Nagaland women farmers’ convention, maintaining that the United Nations commemorates International day of Rural Women while India commemorates the National Women Farmers’ Day or Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas on October 15 to recognise the contribution and role of women in agriculture.

Chishi said the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch organises the farmers’ convention with the objectives to create a platform for women in farming to share their experiences, interact about their needs and concerns relating to their lives and natural resource-based livelihoods.

‘The event is to strengthen the leadership capacities of rural women through awareness building on their rights and entitlements using participatory learning tools and to provide space for interaction between farmers and government agencies towards improving their livelihoods and wellbeing,’ she said.

Chishi added that the October 15 event would be followed by the ‘women’s market day’ on October 16, and the World Food Day to provide a market for women to promote local and organic food.

Chishi said: “In the current context of change crisis, poverty food security, malnutrition, and rising inequalities, it has become more urgent and critical for diverse stakeholders including our government, civil society organisations, NGOs and community at large to recognise the role and contribution of rural women and girls in sustaining food, nutrition and rural livelihoods; recognise their rights and include the them in all decision making processes, and this will bring us one step closer to achieving the SDGs (Sustainable development Goals).”

A member of the organisers Rukmini Rao delivered the keynote address at the event. She pitched for single window system to facilitate the needs of farmers. Likewise, she urged for safe places for women in farming to market their produce, and pointed to the need for proper facilities in the state.

Rao also talked about having direct contacts with consumers in creating awareness for new livelihood opportunities.
A farmer, Adile Wezah of Chizami from Phek district, said Climate Change is a challenge and that traditional agriculture practices and seed preservation needs technological support to combat the challenges.

Wezah also pointed to the need for involvement of ‘young farmers’ to grow own food through concerted efforts.
Another farmer from Kiphire district, whose name was not available at the time this report was being written, also spoke about her experiences. She expressed concern for the lack of markets from the rural areas which she said is one of the greatest challenges to marketing of locally produced food. The farmer has sought for more support and intervention to promote rural agriculture products.

Sisterhood adds one to the rural women’s welfare
From Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur-based nongovernmental organisation Sisterhood Network (SN) observed International Day for Rural Women with the theme “rural women and girls building climate resilience,” on Oct. 15 at Tourist Lodge in Dimapur.

The programme began with a welcome address by FPAR’s co-researcher Sisterhood Network Eva Rongmei. She said International Day of Rural Women is observed on October 15 every year.

Speaking during the occasion, a member of the Sakhi one-stop centre at Dimapur, Tiasenla N Jamir, explained about the ways to empowering women, and helping them to move forward in society and ensure equal treatment as compared to men.

Jamir spoke about a few women-centric schemes from government departments. The schemes included the Pradhan Mantri Vandana Yojana, which is for pregnant women and lactating mothers having their first child.

The Mahila Shati Kendra is for skill, employment, digital literacy and health and nutrition. The Sakhi-one stop centre and women helpline 181 provides integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces.

Likewise, the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana facilitates opening bank accounts for the benefit of the girl child for further education or marriage. It can be opened at post offices, Jonani Suraksha yojana and Janani Sisha Suraksha Karyakram centers.

Addressing the gathering, a horticulture scientist at the ICAR, DR Azeze Seyie said women are ‘underprivileged’ according to statistics but compared to other states, ‘We Naga women are very lucky as we enjoy many privileges but there are some challenges we need to overcome.’

‘Rural women are suffering. Those people who are living in the urban areas must be thankful. They (rural women) are the one who provide our daily needs like vegetables and many food items that we depend on to sustain our lives,’ Seyie said.

Seyie opined that rural women face a lot of challenges. ‘There is no greater lesson we learn better than from our village life,’ she said.

The official said Climate Change has a lot of impact and ‘we have to take measures to tackle Climate Change, like today the whole world is celebrating rural women’s day and we are part of it and we must spread awareness so that we can save for our future generation.’

‘We depend on the rural areas more for our way of living and rural women are the ones who provide for our daily needs,’ she said. She explained that everything is related to rain and water and in the future ‘we will face lots of problems. Climate Change will directly or indirectly affect women.’

Further, Seyie said there are many schemes but one must first work hard and produce good results so that the government schemes ‘will follow you in future.’

‘Nagaland has approximately 1.9 million in population of which 1.4 millions are males and 0.95 are women and 70% of women live in the rural areas,’ she said. She added that Nagaland’s GDP depends on agriculture and forestry, while 68 % depends on ‘rural cultivation. So think about how much urban people depend on rural women,’ she asserted.

In other matters, Seyie said there are some cases when people availed scheme benefits without working. In the process, the departments lost their trust, she said. She has advised the people to work sincerely without any help from the departments and ‘do something great.’

Sponsorship coordination of Sisterhood Network, Nancy Sangtam presented a survey about rural men and women from 11 villages in Dimapur and Peren district. When asked about rural government schemes, out of 184 women, 118 were aware of such while 97 people had availed schemes, Sangtam said. Out of 180 men, 152 said they were aware and 126 had availed schemes.

Further, Sangtam said they were queried about Climate Change affecting their agriculture production and livelihood. Out of 364 people, 287 agreed that Climate Change was affecting their agriculture and livelihood.

The survey also queried about the difficulties they face in accessing natural resource like land and water due to Climate Change. The response was that 342 people agreed that it affected them while 289 people opined that Climate Change-related emergencies mostly affect women and girls.

Sangtam said men are more aware than women and advised the gathering to spread information concerning the various schemes to their friends and to avail the benefits being provided by the government.

By Our Correspondent Updated: Oct 15, 2019 11:22:33 pm
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