OCTOBER 15th, 2018, marked the annual celebration of International Rural Women’s Day.
Saint Lucia joined many other agriculturally-driven developing and developed nations in the world as they celebrated this important day under the theme “Sustainable infrastructure, service and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”
According to the United Nations, rural women make up over a quarter of the world’s population.
Rural Women are often considered to be the ‘backbone’ of our global society because they play an integral role in sustainable food production as well as food security.
Although they carry out this critical responsibility for our survival they are greatly affected by poverty, effects of environmental climate change and exclusion on many other fronts.
However, rural women continue to demonstrate high levels of resilience as they continue to provide sustainable food for nations while taking care of their children and households.
This year’s theme for International Rural Women’s Day had an interconnected relationship with the theme for International Women’s Day 2018, which was “The Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activist working together to transform women’s lives.”
Specifically, in Saint Lucia we saw that rural women were at the forefront of many activities, as they reminded us that is pertinent to acknowledge that both rural and urban women, despite coming from different backgrounds share the same fight to reclaim their voices and claim rights as women.
Today, we must take some time to further acknowledge, celebrate, support and congratulate all of our fellow Rural Saint Lucian women who partake in the Agro-processing and Farming sector and continue to make meaningful strides and achievements.
We salute the Saint Lucia Network of Rural Women Producers (SLNRWP), who are a group of about eighty to one hundred women, divided up into four clusters from the North of the island to the South.
These clusters include Babonneu and Micoud, AnseKawet Crafters and the Cannabelle Cooperative.
They have continued to supply us with an assortment of delicious jams, jellies, chocolate, fudge, vegetable chips, fresh produce, craft items and soaps.
Most recently, the Micoud cluster has been making great waves with their production of delicious chocolate bars.
Its unique taste has quickly allowed it to climb the ladder within our local Saint Lucian and International Chocolate Economy.
We also salute The NGO Helen’s Daughters whose focus is primarily on rural women’s development.
They have played an integral role both locally and internationally in the mobilization of rural women and portraying their individual success.
Most recently, Helen’s Daughters was featured in Forbes’s Island Innovation series.
Let us continue as a Nation, not only today but every day, to keep our Rural women close to our hearts, as they continue to champion the cause of sustaining our communities, cities and nations with food which is imperative to our survival.