Pretoria - The empowerment of women through water use security, land use security and knowledge generation for improved household food security and sustainable rural livelihoods in selected areas of Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu – Natal and North West provinces was opened by the CEO of the Water Research Commission, Mr Dhesigen Naidoo. He explained that gender issues are now mentioned in most provincial, national and regional agricultural and food-security policy plans, but they are usually not taken seriously in some instances. However, women issues should be treated as an integral part of policy and programming.
Many agricultural policy and project documents still fail to consider basic questions about the differences in the resources available to men and women, their roles and the constraints they face, and how these differences might be relevant to proposed interventions. As a result, it is often assumed that interventions in areas such as technology, infrastructure and market access have the same impacts on men and women, when in fact they might not.
Women’s access to productive resources, such as land, modern inputs, technology, education and financial services, is a critical determinant of agricultural productivity. Agriculture is important to women, but female farmers have less access to the productive resources and services required for agricultural production. Women are less likely than men to own land or livestock, adopt new technologies, use credit or other financial services, or receive education or agricultural extension advice. Besides the constraints highlighted above women bear the triple burden of reproductive work, productive work and community roles, and have limited time available to expand their agricultural interests. Recently the Water Research Commission completed three projects which focus on empowerment of women. All these three projects were conducted in different provinces across the country.
Results from these projects showed that at least 61% of the households are headed by females although it varies between the villages in provinces. Culture and tradition still dominate over more contemporary views and the intra-household domain is a variously contested space where male family members strongly influence decision-making in most study sites such as Eastern Cape and Limpopo Provinces. In Limpopo Province, for example, it was found that women in all the study sites were poorly empowered in terms of time, leadership and also ownership of resources. The study conducted in North West Province found that rural women need to be offered opportunities to improve their numeracy and literacy levels since their low levels of education is a major hindrance to the acquisition of new skills.
Dr Joyce Chitja addressing the delegates on the empowerment of women through water use security, land use security and knowledge generation for improved household food security and sustainable rural livelihoods.
To find out more about the WRC go to www.wrc.org.za
Water Research Commission
Private Bag X03, Gezina, 0031, South Africa