Today we are recognizing the contribution of rural women. The UN has declared October 15th to be: “International Day Of Rural Women” I acknowledge the day because I have witnessed the truth about rural women’s contribution first hand, a thousand times over.
In Mali, West Africa, my wife Lynn and I work with hundreds of resourceful rural women every day. Though marginalized, often discriminated against, and poorly educated through no fault of their own, we have clearly seen that rural women are key agents of change, reconciliation, and advancement in many villages. Unsung heroes of immense proportions.
Frankly, I have learned that nothing advances without a woman’s contribution. This is precisely why partnership with rural women is at the heart of Man Of Peace Development’s food security and community development work in Mali, West Africa. As director of West African Field Operations for MOPD I am keeping rural women front and center. I have witnessed first hand that the most tenacious game changers, in all levels of African society, are often rural women.
You would think that in patriarchal West Africa, and a region immersed to the brim in patriarchal Islam that the gatekeepers and agents for community advancement would naturally be men, right? On the surface it certainly seems so.
However, I can assure you that every development project I under took with men, in the early development and test phases for this work for MOPD in Mali, not one of the original men’s test projects is functioning today. No matter, as they still served their intended purpose quite well. However, we are into our fourth year cycle with community groups of women now. They simply keep going. Why did the men not catch the vision?
Men want get rich quick schemes. They are too pie in the sky, especially when they see western and outside funded ideas coming in. Women are satisfied with small, slow, grassroots results because they know it adds up to something huge over time, when many get on board. Men have a development ADD
So today, the United Nations calls us to recognize the
“… critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty…… Rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.”
I acknowledge the day because I have witnessed the truth about rural women’s contributions first hand, a thousand times over.