CSW59: Day 1- Grassroots rural women cannot be seen as victims by Gilda Monjane

Date: March 10, 2015
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It is a great pleasure to share my CSW59 experience. The trip to New York (NY) was long and tiring but I did my best to enjoy all of it and not just the events I am travelling to attend in NY. I am from Mozambique and my itinerary included passing from Johannesburg (JHB) and Dubai before reaching NY. The trip took almost more than 24 hours counting with the connection time in the different airports. Flight time was 1h hour from Maputo to JHB, 8 hours from JHB to Dubai and 13 hours from Dubai to NY. I have arrived NY on Sunday, 8th March and went immediately for the Women’s day March.

Although I was tired, I loved the march. I marched with heart and not just with feet and my body. It was a meaningful way of marking 8th of March. The first person to remind me that it was 8th of March was my best friend: my dearest husband. After coming out from the plane I switched on my cellphone and a message sign was there. It was an SMS from him wishing me a happy 8th of March. Maybe because I am a woman, who knows? or because he knows my Gender efforts to make life of disadvantaged women better. I like the support I get from him. I love you, my Dear husband!

The Women March meant a lot for me. I was carrying a message of lots of rural women with whom I work daily. Women which I value. Women with whom I share my plans. Women that also share their needs and ideas with me. I love listening to them. I think it is a way of bringing their ideas and voices when I have an occasion to participate in gender meeting such like CSW59.

Today, Monday 9th March was the opening of the CSW59. It was a busy day for me as I first had to make sure I print my ground pass. It seems that many people left this for the last minute, like me. The place of registration was extremely full! It is a lesson to learn: Next time I must do everything on time and avoid last minute printing of Ground Pass! Fortunately I have managed on time to then go and join the opening session.

I was impressed by the opening speech. I loved to listen about the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. I recognize the progress that was somehow achieved, but the most true reality is the fact that most of the barriers and constrains that were identified and recognized twenty years ago, persist today. I hope we will not need another 20 years to struggle to reach the targets!

I identify myself with most of the barriers that many women are facing as I also come from a poor family, I was educated from a housewife mother that lost her husband and then had a task to head a household and raise her kids. So my education was paid out of some selling of agricultural crops that my mum with the support of her kids was getting in case good raining season was there to allow good harvesting. This is to remind everyone how rural women depend on climate for their agricultural work, even is an era of photovoltaic energy that could help pumping water for irrigation. My mum learned to read and write with the first alphabetization campaigns after Mozambique became independent. Because of that she made sure that all her 14 kids attend school and learn to read and write. This leads me to continue thinking that education is a key for women empowerment. Once a woman can read and write can better take care of the family and also support development, poverty reduction and policy implementation for the different sectors: Education, Health, Agriculture, Energy, etc. Please let us stop looking to a woman as a victim but see her as a partner agent for the development process.

CSW59 Day one was moving. Time was running like a river in a declined place. I was confused in my head and it was difficult to make my mind. I wanted to listen to the statements of my country recent appointed Gender, Children and Social Affairs Minister, Dr. Cidalia Chauque and other similar people with a status like hers or equivalent, attending the CSW59. At the same time, it was approaching time for one of the most interesting side event I have registered to attend. It was one taking place at the DHL. Please do not confuse yourself. It is not the express mailing company. By DHL I mean at the Auditorium Dag HammarskjÁ¶ld Library. It was not easy to reach the place but if one is interested can search for the place and very easily find it. Like I did.

I got to the place. The room was full. I think this is a good indicator on the relevance of the topic. I did not care about sitting properly. I made myself comfortable in the stairs in one of the corridor and kept quite not to disturb the other participants trying to get a seat.

Discussion started. The session was mainly addressing rural women agricultural work as the main practitioners on the ground. In the main panel something called my attention: we had 3 women and one man. Maybe it was because agriculture is mainly practiced by women. Not bad. But maybe it is also a time to think or re-think, in different countries, to nominate women as agricultural Ministers. Why not? I am specifically thinking about most of the southern countries where agriculture is practiced by women. By nominating women as ministers I sure most of the problems would be solved. Only a women knows better how difficult is to clean is ground place to prepare for the rain season. If it is a man you can expect to see him using a tractor to do that. Most of the irrigated places belong to men and they practice agriculture on an industrial scale. The owners most of time have bank credits that are difficult for women to get. Does it mean that women do not want such good/better agricultural modern practices? Of course women also wish to get such nice conditions to avoid too much work, rest a bit and have time for other relevant tasks like taking care of their pregnancy without working in parallel on agriculture, burst feeding calmly, attend alphabetization, help kids to do school homework, pay attention on the family nutrition, and so on.

From the main panel I have recognized Dr. Mildred Crawford from Jamaica and Dr. Ndisale, one of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) experts. When it comes to agriculture and nutrition I am used to see how brave the two Iron Ladies are. From the other side, in the audience it was fully of agricultural experts, grass roots people, particularly women. Most of them I have already came across with during other meetings. As time could not allow everyone to express himself/herself most opinions remained unknown because of their silence. But during break we still could talk, about some studies, experiences and change cards. This is one of the soul reasons of the meetings similar to CSW59. Exchange experiences and learn from one another experience. Congratulations to UN and partners. For my particular case I say congratulation to Gender Links that decided to take as Summit Winners to the CSW59 as our premium. I say once again Thank you Gender Links. I am learning a lot.

With this side event IFAD wished to raise a debate in order to contribute for a revision advocacy of accomplishments within the post 2015 development framework and explore opportunities for rural women’s priorities to be mainstreamed into other policies. The side event session also intended to launch a campaign for the programme on Rural Women Leading Sustainable Development. The campaign aims in facilitating a network of the rural grassroots women’s organizations / associations and help to empower the respective members of such organizations/associations by providing them with necessary tools to influence global policy-making and also coordinate their contribution to ensure fulfillment of sustainable development goals.
I learnt a lot from the different opinions raised in this side event. Most of the raised situations are similar to the problems faced by the rural women of Mozambique. I will take most of the contribution to share with the National Movement of Rural Women coordinator in Mozambique in order to still share with IFAD so that concerns of the Mozambican grassroots rural women are also included and a contribution of the Mozambican rural women is also needed.

As I always say: Grassroots rural women cannot be seen as victims. They need to bring their voice in order to remain key people in nutrition and food security and sustainable development. There is a need to continue with efforts to empower rural women in order to achieve food and nutrition security. Most of the food which feeds the urban people comes from the rural places. If we do not improve rural places living conditions, many people will immigrate to urban places and nutrition problems will not be solved.



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