The International Day of Rural Women 2014
Breaking Out of Marginalisation-Rural and Indigenous Women
Feminist Participatory Action Research groups from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam
Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
The International Day of Rural Women is an occasion to recognise “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”
In the Asia Pacific, Rural and indigenous women play vital roles in economic production through engagement in agriculture, fishing, herding, and small scale businesses, as well as perform in multiple social and cultural activities that are critical to the survival of their households and communities.Despite their essential contribution to the economy, household and society,rural and indigenous women in the region benefit least from economic growth yet suffer the most from loss of sustainable lands, climate disasters and inequality. As inequalities of wealth, power, resources continue to widen between and within countries and genders, women continue to lose their access to and control over land and resources, and remain amongst the most economically and politically marginalised groups in the Asia-Pacific region.
Of the 1.8 billion people living under poverty in Asia, 70% are women.Even though women farmers constitute 70% of the total agricultural force in Asia, they enjoy only 5% of all agricultural extension resources. Of the $18.4 billion spent on agricultural aid between 2002 and 2008, only 6% included a gender focus.
To address these realities, women throughout the region documented their own knowledge and that of their communities, strengthened local feminist movements, and made change happen in 8 countries through the APWLD Breaking Out of Marginalisation-Rural and Indigenous Women (BOOM-RIW) programme.They used Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) for Change, emphasizing local knowledge and taking control of development agendas that are affecting their lives, and that for the most part are developed without their input.
For instance, arable land is so essential for women in Vietnam, that minority women, who were forcibly resettled in 2004 for the development of the Ta Trach Reservoir hydropower dam, walk 3 hours a day from the resettlement site to their old land to cultivate it.
In the Philippines, women from the Uma tribe in Kalinga Province rely on communal forests, farms and rivers. These sources of sustenance are under threat by Chevron’s persistence to develop a geothermal plant.
In West Java of Indonesia, it is difficult for Rural women to get access to land because of land monopoly by huge plantations and companies. They also lack of agricultural capital and are dependent to usurer or middlemen who give loan for agricultural capital. Moreover, to access capital from bank and government they required permission from husband or parent.
Women often do not receive a living wage because they receive far less pay than men do.
In Pakistan the majority of domestic workers earn less than one dollar a day. Survey data from Punjab Province shows 56% of domestic workers earn PKR 1000-2000 (10-20USD) per month, which is 3 times less than the minimum wage of similar wage earners.
Entertainment work in Nepal has not been formally recognised as work. Owners verbally agree on salaries of typically 1500-6000 rupees (15-62USD) per month, far below the 8000 rupee minimum wage. In practice, 28% of women do not receive their monthly salary, and 79% of those who do, do not receive it on time.
In Kyrgyzstan, women have limited rights to ownership, resources and social welfare due to patriarchal practices. Women are forced to marry at an early age where many marriages go unregistered. The research found that 40% of marriages are from kidnappings. Rape is a common element of bride kidnapping, and social stigma from rape forces women to stay with abductors.
In Bangladesh, there have been no prosecutions of perpetrators of sexual violence against indigenous Jumma women and girls since the 2008 establishment of formal courts in the three hill districts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) even though over 227 cases of violence has been documented between 2007 and 2013.In 2014 from January to July, 26 cases of sexual violence including rape, rape-slay, attempted rape, abduction and molestation has been reported for both in the CHT and the plains, but the perpetrators are still running free.
Women in Hmong Indigenous communities in Northern Thailand have no right to participate in community decision making. In many Hmong villages, there is no legal recognition of married women’s right to a share of property or land.
The global model of development is not working for these women as they continue to bear the brunt of world crises in economy, energy, food, environment, climate and deepening poverty. These women are demanding change. They are demanding a new model of development that asserts the right to development for rural and indigenous women.They are demanding Development Justice which is framed by five fundamental shifts: redistributive justice, economic justice, social justice, environmental justice and accountability to peoples.
On the seventh commemoration of the International Day of Rural Women in 2014, we would like to join rural women all over the world in raising their voices and demanding for just and sustainable development goals.
1. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
2. Community Healthy Advocacy Network At Nation (CHANAN), Pakistan
3. Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC), Philippines
4. Women Forum for Women in Nepal (WOFOWON), Nepal
5. SERUNI, Indonesia
6. PA SHAZET, Kyrgyzstan
7. Kapaeeng Foundation, Bangladesh
8. Women’s Network of Thailand (IWNT), Thailand
9. Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD), Vietnam