The new trailblazers

  • It is important to open up non-agricultural avenues for rural women
- KHILENDRA BASNYAT

Dec 27, 2018-

The overall development of Nepal is virtually impossible without the development of rural areas. A majority of the population resides in the most rural parts of the country, and although some efforts have been made to launch rural development projects in different parts of the country in the past, no substantial development has been seen yet.

Most public interventions that have been undertaken in the past have failed to accelerate rural development mainly because of poor public resource management, non-implementation of policies and local governments’ indifferences. This is why most rural areas, especially the most remote ones, still remain deprived of basic  infrastructures and services such as primary education, health care, drinking water and roads. And the impacts of this deprivation is seen mostly in the women population of these areas. 

In most rural areas, work is exhausting. There is an absence of a good marketing system, resources are unexplored, and a deep lack of adequate capital and manpower. Along with all these hurdles, the biggest hurdle in implementing development works in rural areas is the inequality that exists between men and women. 

More than half of the population in rural areas is made of women. Despite this, women’s participation in rural development activities is far from satisfactory. But if the existing women workforce can be utilised more productively, there is no doubt that it will greatly contribute to rural development. 

One of the major reasons as to why women currently do not play a significant role in rural development activities is because most of them are uneducated. 

Low female literacy rate is a major constraint to the effectiveness of economic and social development programmes in rural areas. Along with being uneducated, many of them also rely heavily on their male counterparts to sustain their livelihoods. Apart from this, lack of employment opportunities deprives them of bringing their labour to productive use. Consequently, most of them cannot earn money and are unable to support their respective households and rural development as well.

In reality, denying them work opportunities will never make women self-reliant; instead it will hamper them and slow down the development process. In this light, in order to provide them more income-generating opportunities, it is of utmost importance to provide them with appropriate skill development training. 

In the past, much emphasis was laid on agricultural development for the increase of rural women’s economic productivity. But this sector alone could not be lucrative to rural development. The main reason is that even in agriculture there is a gender gap. Farm machinery is not women friendly; wages women receive are less in comparison to wages their male counterparts receive. The problems women usually face in agriculture receive attention but they are quickly forgotten quickly as well. For this reason, it is expedient to open up non-agricultural avenues for rural women with a view to help them for rural development. 

Apart from agricultural employment opportunities, rural women also work in the handicraft industry. But the number of women involved in small trades and businesses is very few. Talking about their important role in the non-agricultural sector, rural women need appropriate training to make their work easier and to more effectively utilise their labour for rural development. Actually, to give training to rural women means to empower them, give them knowledge, upgrade their skills and change their attitudes for the accomplishment of the desired goal. In order to accrue intended benefits from the non-agricultural sector, surveys should be conducted to find the suitability of various non-agricultural activities in different parts of this country. 

Since most rural women are poor, it is essential to establish a revolving fund to help them buy raw materials during the appropriate season. Moreover, the founding of a separate organization for women’s welfare is of great importance to increase their agricultural and industrial activities, thereby helping them to back up rural development. 

After the people’s movement in 1990, the idea of women’s development and policies/programmes began to take shape. But still, despite all the tall claims of political leaders, a majority of rural women continue to be exploited by men.  

Even today, many rural women are involved in agriculture, besides doing other subsidiary work such as livestock raising, construction work, collage industry, teaching, nursing and clerical activities. However, until now, they have not been encouraged to work as entrepreneurs. Without entrepreneurship, they will be subjected to exploitation and discrimination by men. Therefore, it is the demand of the times to initiate women’s entrepreneurship in order to reduce their exploitation, in doing so not only will the women population prosper but also the nation.

 

Basnyat is a freelance writer. 

Published: 27-12-2018 06:49

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