TAKE ACTION IN OCTOBER
World Rural Women’s Day and Domestic Violence Awareness Month:
An Intersection of Issues
One of the uniquely rural issues around domestic violence is found at the intersection of violence against women and the lack of recognition for and undervaluation of rural women’s work, including the contribution of farm wives to family farms and of rural women to the sustainability of rural communities.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
October 15 is World Rural Women’s Day.
World Rural Women’s Day provides rural women and their organizations with a focal point to raise the profile of rural women, sensitize both government and public to their crucial, yet largely unrecognized roles and promote action in their support. Rural women the world over play a major role in ensuring food security and in the development and stability of the rural areas. Yet, with little or no status, they frequently lack the power to secure land rights or to access vital services such as credit, inputs, extension, training and education. Their vital contribution to society goes largely unnoticed.
World Rural Women’s Day aims to change this by bringing rural women out of obscurity at least once a year – to remind society how much they owe to rural women and to give value and credit to their work.
During October, we have a unique opportunity to do public education on both of these issues and how they are related. Take advantage of this opportunity by addressing them together in your public education efforts for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Public Information and Relations
In your Domestic Violence Awareness Month press releases, news letters, brochures and public speaking events, include information about World Rural Women’s Day and its purpose.
Highlight the contribution of rural women in your local area.
Use activities and events to demonstrate concrete and visible examples of the value of rural women’s work.
Include posters about World Rural Women’s Day in your office. Put up banners and distribute flyers.
Go on your local radio station to explain why it is important that the role and work of rural women is recognized. Discuss how undervaluing rural women’s work relates to violence against rural women.
Create an award for exceptional local rural women or women’s groups.
Inform local authorities, such as local extension agents, mayor, city council, local business associations, etc. about what you’re doing and why.
If your local domestic violence awareness month activities have had low attendance in the past, change the perspective in order to reach a wider rural audience. Focus on World Rural Women’s Day as the primary topic, and add your domestic violence awareness month materials as a secondary issue. Use the event to draw attention to women’s contributions to agriculture and sustainable development in your communities. Invite the mayor, local authorities and civic leaders as guests.
Collaborate with other local groups, including sustainable ag organizations, to organize a regional workshops. Help raise awareness in community development groups about the negative impact of violence against rural women on the sustainability of rural communities. Begin with this quote:
“Policies attracting women and young girls to stay in the countryside must be encouraged since those policies which lead to their leaving will eventually result in a total abandonment of rural areas.”
Educate your state coalition.
Provide information to your coalition about how the lack of regard for rural women’s contributions is related to violence against rural women. Provide written materials for them and ask them to include this information in their newsletters and brochures.
“Society in general, and even rural women themselves, have greatly undervalued and often completely ignored the role of women in maintaining and developing the living countryside with its rich and diversified heritage and traditions.”
Ask your coalition to schedule a panel discussion on this issue at your next statewide meeting. Invite women farmers and others from outside your program to participate on the panel. Have them discuss their experiences and needs, what works and what doesn’t work. For example,
Are they treated equally by farm service offices?
Do government payments come in their name or only in their husband’s name?
Is the land in their name?
The farm assets such as expensive farm equipment and machinery?
Do they know the financial status of their family farm?
Do they have access to the farm resources?
Do rural women undervalue their own work?
Does their unpaid work result in a lack of financial resources for continuing education and financial independence?
How do these things affect their ability to act independently from violent relationships?
How can local women’s groups help change this attitude?