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RWA Media Statement: International Women’s Day must serve as a Call to Action!

In commemorating International Women’s Day, it becomes clear that this day must not simply take the form of a celebration. International Women’s Day must serve as a call to action. Our commemorations must serve to strengthen our commitment to creating a world where women are no longer marginalised and excluded, but instead thrive in an environment of equal opportunities and rights.

Across the world, rural women continue to grapple with multifaceted crises which exacerbates their marginalisation and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and hunger. These continued struggles experienced by women serve as a reminder that amidst the strides towards gender equity there is an urgent need for more efforts to dismantle systemic barriers and address the root causes of inequality, poverty, and hunger that persist in their lives. 

Women, over the years, have confronted deeply entrenched gender inequalities, stemming from a complex interplay of cultural norms, societal structures, and patriarchal systems that collectively limit their access to education, economic opportunities, and healthcare. The legacy of colonialism has further exacerbated these challenges, as many women find themselves in vulnerable positions with limited rights and resources, perpetuating a cycle of disenfranchisement. The patriarchal fabric woven into the social fabric has played a pivotal role in sustaining the infringement of rural women’s rights. Traditional gender roles, often reinforced by patriarchal norms, dictate societal expectations and confine rural women to specific roles within the family and community. This not only restricts their agency but also reinforces the notion of male dominance, hindering women from participating fully in decision-making processes at various levels. Recognizing and dismantling these patriarchal structures is essential in fostering genuine gender equality and empowering women to break free from the chains of systemic oppression.

Land, sacred and ancestral, is more than soil—it is our heritage and sustenance. We demand land with water rights, recognizing our role as custodians of the earth. Any investment in progress must safeguard our sacred connection to the land. We stand firm against land theft, grabs, and extractivism. Additionally, health is not a privilege; it is a right. We demand comprehensive health care which addresses the unique needs of rural women. Our bodies are not battlegrounds; they are sacred vessels deserving respect, care, and autonomy. 

We reject the farcical nature of present climate negotiations, and we demand climate reparations, transparent fund allocations, and resources redirected to rural women, peasant communities, and those impacted by climate change. We hold African negotiators accountable, demanding climate justice and insisting that polluters must pay. Economic empowerment is not a token gesture; it is a fundamental right. We reject performative economic measures and insist on investments which dismantle barriers, ensuring rural women have equal access to resources, markets, and opportunities. We reject the driving logic of profiteers and will continue to challenge the assault on nature, the commodification of our seeds, biodiversity, and water. 

As the Rural Women’s Assembly, we stand united, fierce in our demands, unwavering in our commitment challenging patriarchy, exploitation, and injustice. Addressing the plight of rural women requires comprehensive efforts by all stakeholders. Our journey and commitment is unwavering. We will persistent and build a future where justice and equity are not merely aspirational but becomes the lived reality for every woman, especially rural women. We believe a world which cherishes, respects, and uplifts the strength and potential inherent in every woman’s journey is within our reach.

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