ZAMBIA: Appreciating the Labour of Rural Women


Rural women in Zambia play a crucial role in the development of the country, particularly in the agricultural sector. Every year on 15 October, Zambia celebrates the International Day of Rural Women (IDRW) to highlight the achievements and contributions of rural women towards development and agriculture.

RWA Zambia celebrated the International Rural Women\’s Day in three districts namely Mumbwa, Chongwe and Chingola located in Central, Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces respectively. In Mumbwa district (located in the Central province of Zambia), RWA members had the IRWD celebration on 15 November with the theme, “our lost seed is our lost nutrition” in Mumbwa town under Mumbwa District Association, who acted as the host. The women danced, displayed the seeds and shared some seeds. They were happy to have the District Agriculture Coordinator as our special guest who made remarks about seeds which can be recycled. He also spoke about the Fertilizer Input Support Programme (FISP).

RWA Chairperson, Mary Sakala made the first speech where she introduced RWA Zambia and its aims as well as the on-going agroecology activities in preparation of the nearing rain season. The event was opened and closed by traditional dance performances – the DACO donated money to the dancers. The media was present to cover the event and at the end of the program all were invited for lunch.

In Chongwe district, the activity was done in the rural outskirts of Chongwe district, Lwiimba community in particular on 17 November 2022 under the theme Indigenous Seed/Food:Our Right and Identity. The women shared what they do as cooperatives and individual activities, bee keeping, goat and local chicken rearing, food processing (tomato), gardening local vegetables (\’bondwe\’, \’lumanda\’, \’kalembula\’, \’chibwabwa\’). The four pillars of RWA were highlighted; seeds/indigenous, land rights, climate change and activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV). The main topic of discussion was agroecology as a farming methods which does not destroy the environment and is inclusive of humans, trees, rivers, vegetation and animals.

Rural Women’s Assembly members based in Copperbelt province commemorated International Day of Rural Women on 18 November 2022 in Lufwanyama district under the theme, Indigenous Seed/Food:Our Right and Identity. Among the other district members present were: Ndola, Chingola, Chililabombwe, Luanshya and Kalulushi. During the celebrations, topics included women being the guardians of our seeds, land and earth, how to preserve the seeds and other vegetables and fruits, creations of seed banks at individual level and as a region were discussed.

The Vice Principal of the venue, Mr. Chirwa was happy and encouraged the women to work hard and continue discovering more knowledge which will be left to the new generation and generations to come. He added that the venue was freely available to use to learn more about agriculture and share knowledge. He encouraged the women to focus on nutritious foods and teach the community where they lived about healthy foods. He also emphasised “No to GMO” and that the Rural Women\’s Assembly teaches communities about the implications of GMO use.

While Rural Women\’s Assembly Zambia IRWD celebrations were done under personalised themes, all emphasising the importance of preserving and promoting indigenous seeds and foods which are often under threat from the introduction of foreign varieties, the events reflected appreciation for rural women in Zambia. It is evident that the indigenous seed varieties are often better adapted to local conditions and are more resilient to climate change. They also play an important role in the retention of traditional knowledge and agro-biodiversity. This is particularly relevant in Zambia, where many rural women rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

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