(Penang, Malaysia) On the 5th International Day of Rural Women in 2012 the Asian Rural Women's Coalition (ARWC) highlights the critical roles rural women play in transforming the world into a just and sustainable society.
This year, ARWC honours exceptional rural women and advocates from several countries across Asia who continuously fight for survival, justice and freedom. ARWC celebrates the leadership, strength, creativity and commitment in pushing for gender equality while improving lives of the general rural populace.
"My goal in life is to bring all my efforts into the development of our community to advance gender equality. My priorities are to involve women into full public and economic life, bring more women into the Rural Council, create more opportunities for young women and girls, improve rural environment and save natural resources and make my community and government understand that without consideration of women's human rights real development is impossible." ALYA KENEBAEVA from Kyrgyzstan is a leader and activist of various organisations as well as a rural school teacher and mother of a big family with multiple responsibilities.
"I invite you to be active in progressive women's organisations. Our mission is to defend our ancestral land, our rights and resources. Let us defend our natural resources for future generations! Until such social inequities exist, we should not give up." MARIA GALONG from the Philippines rose to fight the oppression and harassment that the women in her community were experiencing in the growing conflict between her people, the military, and logging and mining companies.
"All rural and disadvantaged women (should) have their voices heard in all levels of decision-making. Rural women should have freedom to move, be educated, learn skills and stand on their own feet." NIRMALA DEVI CHAUDHARY THARU dedicated herself to the rights of indigenous, Muslim, caste and disadvantaged women in Nepal. She was instrumental in freeing 46 families who were bonded labourers of a local landlord.
As demonstrated in the failure of the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2012 with its priority theme, "the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges", the human rights, equality and empowerment of rural women has still not been universally agreed as priority. In turn, it proved that the role played by rural and indigenous women for just and sustainable development and eradicating hunger and poverty has been critical to the current economic, social and political system and challenging the status quo.
The framework for sustainable development agreed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, also earlier this year failed rural and indigenous women by not addressing the systemic problems which have been causing the crises in the financial, energy, food and water, climate and environmental systems the negative impacts of which rural and indigenous women forced to face. The "Green Economy" is anchored on the continuation of existing policies of neo-liberal globalisation, relying more on technological fix and uncontrollable market system which increases expropriation and exploitation of resources and cheap labour, particularly rural, indigenous and other marginalised women in the Global South.
16th of October, following the International Day of Rural Women, will continue to be the "World Foodless Day" if we pursue the "Green Economy" and neo-liberal economic policies which mandate governments of the South to surrender land and natural resources to greedy corporations. Leaving the unequal distribution of resources and wealth in the shadow of globalisation only result in deepening the gap in society and exacerbating poverty and hunger. ARWC believes that "Food Sovereignty" is the answer to the crises and continues to advocate for taking back the ownership of resources and food production system to the farmers and communities.
"The women we are honouring are hardly known in the wider world. Their lives have inspired hundreds if not thousands of rural and indigenous women and communities including groups and individuals who devote their service for rural folks, yet their stories remain invisible in dominant development paradigms. The sustainable way of life that they pursued and taught in their communities have provided much light to sustainable and equitable use of resources which governments rarely consider in their economic development programs. It is for this reason that we want to amplify the voices and lives of simple but exemplary women in the rural villages, in the rural world where food and resources needed by the bigger world come. Inspired by these rural and indigenous women's courage, we will persist in rallying governments for genuine economic development goals as we reinforce our actions to defend the remaining resources of our land," VERNIE YOCOGAN-DIANO, from the Cordillera Women's Education Action Research Center, Inc. (CWEARC), Philippines, advocates.
"The Rural women are the backbone of the country's economy. They do not enjoy economic opportunities like others. They suffer from unequal position and low status. Honouring the rural women is to acknowledge their courage, hard work and their contribution to the society. All rural women should have a life of dignity and prosperity". FATIMA BURNAD, from Tamil Nadu Women's Forum (TNWF); Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED), India congratulates the 100 women for their remarkable service to their sisters in Asia.
The International Day of Rural Women, established by the UN General Assembly (resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007), recognises "the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty."
The ARWC is committed to the development of a movement of women peasants, agricultural women workers, indigenous women, Dalit women, nomads, fisherfolk, informal and formal workers, migrants and advocates calling for rural women's rights, empowerment and liberation!
For more information on Honouring 100 women, please visit:
For the Rural Women's Day activities taking place in various countries in Asia, please visit:
For reference, contact the Asian Rural Women's Coalition (ARWC) Secretariat:
THE STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS OF THE ASIAN RURAL WOMEN'S COALITION IS COMPOSED OF 13 MEMBER GROUPS OF NATIONAL FORMATIONS/ALLIANCES AND REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS WORKING ON WOMEN'S ISSUES ON VARIOUS FRONTS: Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED) and Tamil Nadu Women's Forum (TNWF), India * Tenaganita, Malaysia * Human Development Organisation (HDO), Sri Lanka * INNABUYOG and GABRIELA National Alliance of Women's Organisation, Philippines * All Nepal Women's Alliance (ANWA), Nepal * Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) * Committee for Asian Women (CAW) * Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) * Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) * Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility (CARAM ASIA) * International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism IMADR)