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Rural Women Celebrate Their Achievements

Save the Sheabutter Industry, Plead Rural Women
By Bernice Agyekwena
Rural Women involved in sheabutter extraction have called on government to devise a strategy to promote the local utilization and consumption of sheabutter in order to save the industry.
Wheareas in the past the local consumption and utilization of sheabutter was high enough for women involved in its extraction to earn a living from it, the situation today is different due to the preference for imported cooking oil and cosmetic creams for cooking and taking care of the body and hair respectively.
Speaking at a durbar to mark ‘Rural Women’s day” at Sagnerigu, a suburb of Tamale, Madam Fulera Yakubu, Makazia of the Pagasogni Sheabutter Group, said even though women engaged in sheabutter extraction have tried to add value to their produce by producing body creams and putting them in attractive packages, they cannot compete favourably on the market with imported products because they lack the technology and expertise to bring them up to world standards.
It therefore behoves on government to provide the appropriate technology and expertise that would ensure the production of edible oil, body creams and hair creams from sheabutter that meet the tastes and standards of today for the Ghanaian market.
Standing amidst numerous packing cases of sheabutter that had failed to find buyers on the market, Madam Yakubu said rural women may have to quit sheabutter extraction if nothing is done to help them access the local as well as the international market since they cannot even realize their capital, not to talk of profit, when they invest in it.
Mr Iddi Abubakari, of Action Aid, said this year’s International Rural Women’s day is being celebrated under the theme ‘Rural Women at the heart of Innovation’. He said the day was mooted at the Beijing Conference in 1995 and in December 2007 was officially declared as a yearly celebration by article 62/136 under the United Nations General Assembly. This was in recognition of the contributions by rural women in enhancing agriculture and food security, eradicating rural poverty and promoting the development of their communities and countries as a whole.
Mr Abubakari said reports by the International labour Organization indicate that 68 percent of women in sub-Saharan Africa are engaged in agriculture with rural women participating in livestock and food production, provision of fuel wood, performance of on-farm and off-farm duties, caring for children and undertaking other domestic chores. All these functions point to women’s creativity and engagement in a wide array of activities.
Yet, in spite of all this, women and girls continue to be the most disadvantaged in society, face a lot of inequalities and are discriminated against with respect to their male counterparts. Hence, Action Aid as a pro-poor organization views addressing the power balance between men and women as a core intervention area which has necessitated the organization’s interest in the celebration of the day.
Mr. Abubakari said in spite of efforts by the UN and other international bodies to recognize the role of women in society, a lot still needs to be achieved especially when one considers the fact that inequalities and discrimination is still high in terms of access to education, health care, income generating activities and employment opportunities among several others. Hence, the durbar which was organized and sponsored by Action Aid was to allow women to showcase the products of their ingenuity and creativity in their efforts to contribute to community and national development.
Mr. Sumai Osman, an Official of Africa 2000 Network, said the perception that women are always in the kitchen is outmoded since development in the modern world cannot be achieved by men alone. In addition, women are not able to achieve much because they are most often denied the necessary education that would enable them contribute more. “As a nation, there cannot be effective development without the participation of women and they can only participate effectively when they are educated”, he said.
Mr. Osman appealed to people in the region to strive and maintain peace in the region to ensure that investors continue to invest in the country to speed up its economic development, saying. “Investors come to Ghana because there is peace. No investor would like to invest in an atmosphere of chaos.”

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Categories: Environment, Uncategorized
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