Imagine a nation with well-developed women and women in power. Women on the front line of nutrition as care givers in the family – producing, storing, cleaning, cooking food for consumption – and ensuring that food, when available, reach children first. Women have a crucial role in ensuring the health of children and the family as a whole.
What does the government or the country do about empowering such women and creating this future? Very little.
Women farmers typically use lower levels of purchased technological inputs due to lack of government interest in women, instead of using resources such as fertilizer and high-yielding seed varieties they use low quality resources and this is because women do not have access to these key technological inputs hence a very big significant portion of the productivity gap.
Or worse, the lack of education especially amongst women disadvantages children, especially as far as healthy practices like breastfeeding and child healthy foods are concerned. This is also a problem because most uneducated women do not know about nutritious foods, hence high levels of malnutrition in my country.
Five women I met from rural areas they complained to me about their involvement in agricultural development as they are side lined and regarded merely as housewives.
“Kukabwera ma bungwe amatidutsa
Amati tikalere ana”
This sentiment was echoed by other women I met, saying that they are disregarded and left the of conversations and decision making on development.
These women and many others also complained about how their husbands mistreat them, enforcing their roles as housekeepers and believing them unworthy of having a say in any decision making. They are good enough to care for his family, buy to take part in any development. This is a problem with many women in the rural areas and this has created a lot of pain and frustration.
Compounding these issues and the mistreatment of women are cultural norms. For example, “kulowa kufa” where, if woman’s a husband dies, his brother is forced to marry his widow without her consent.
I work so hard to empower women because “protecting a woman is protecting a nation”.
For more on Grace: http://youngleadersfordev.org/author/grace-banda/