RWA South Africa: Highlights from The RWA South Africa AGM

Rural Women’s Assembly South Africa had an annual general meeting held in Cape Town during the month of August, which is also a woman’s month celebration in South Africa. Women came from five different provinces of South Africa to join the Annual General Meeting, provinces include Limpopo, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Free State. Rural Women’s Assembly believes in empowering women to become feminist and also to be independent. The five days meeting focused on issues that women face on a daily basis. Women are believed to be strong humans when dealing with sustaining household livelihoods.  The five pillars of the Rural Women Assembly are climate change, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNDROP), Gender Based Violence (GBV), One Woman One Hectare Campaign, and Agroecology. Women need to have influences in all the government policies and laws pertaining to all the things mentioned above because it directly affects women.

Despite the challenges that the sisters faced in Cape Town due to the taxi strike that happened in the same week. Sisters embarked on a journey to do a farm visit in Suurbraak, Cape Town. They received a warm welcome from the Rural Women\’s Assembly sisters in the Western Cape. The objective of the farm visit is to exchange ideas on ways women do farming like Agroecology and Aquaponics. These days farming is not easy due to climate change and the hybrid seeds that our government approved to be used. Rural Women Assembly strongly believes and promotes the seed saving and seed sharing for future seed banks. It is important that women empower each other in farming in order to sustain household livelihoods in a healthy way by using indigenous seeds. Suurbraak farm exchange visit was divided into five sessions namely, Agroecology, nursery and seed bank, herbs session, Aquaponics, food processing. Each session had a champion to take the sisters through it and educate women the importance of each department because they interact with each other. 

The last day of the Annual General Meeting in Cape Town was closed off with a picketing march outside parliament. The objective of the picketing was to challenge the South African government on issues that are affecting women on a daily basis. For example the One Women One Hectare Campaign, where in the same week there was a breaking story of a mother who killed her children and herself. It is alleged that before she did all that she left a note that she could not tolerate hunger anymore. South Africa is one of the richest countries in the world with mineral resources that can create jobs for the citizens, however, South African communities are facing poverty energy with electricity challenges on a daily basis. Should the government act and approve The One Woman One Hectare campaign none of the women killing children and themselves will be having in our country. Women face other personal challenges where they have to raise their own children with absent fathers. The least that our government can provide for women is to work hand in hand with organizations like Rural Women Assembly that are already exposed in finding solutions that assist women to be able to sustain their family’s livelihoods. 

Food processing is identified as a way of making your own food fresh from the garden. When you plant your own food and later process it you save money. South Africa is currently facing austerity budget measures due to the Ukraine and Russia war. It has affected the lifestyle of the people, now women need to adjust and adapt in new ways of sustaining their families’ livelihoods with no income or less. The mental health care of a woman these days is very critical, they need to be looked after because it will easily affect the other people around them.

The main objective of the Annual General Meeting is to equip and empower women to be able to be independent by promoting Agroecology back in their communities. Sisters that were part of the meeting are expected to go back to their own communities and educate other women. The importance of understanding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNDROP) that speaks about the peasant’s rights is still not implemented in South Africa. The government is failing people by not respecting their rights like the right to food, right to access clean water. Women need to take part in influencing decision making of these policies and laws. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants (UNDROP) has been there for years and most Southern Countries are aware of the policy, however, they are reluctant to implement it because it empowers women. Women need to lead government roles and positions so that their voices can be heard. 

The Gender Based Violence (GBV) statistics in our country is mainly caused by poverty and unemployment. Some women find themselves in a situation that still allows men to practice patriarchy on them. Women had obeyed men just for security and sustainability which took away their dignity. If women were to be trained and fully empowered in Agroecology none of the Gender Based Violence high rates would have happened. Women become victims of abuse each and every second in our country and the justice system is failing women. The Rural Women Assembly organization condemns such failure of our court systems because perpetrators have more rights over women and children of our country. We challenge the court systems policies and laws decision making by either engaging them first and if failed then we picket to exercise our women and children’s rights in order to be heard. 

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