The rights of women who till the soil
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CTA. 2003. The rights of women who till the soil. Rural Radio Resource Pack 03/05. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57373
Poor tools, poor information, poor soils and poverty ? tackling the problems by fighting for the rights of women in north western Cameroon
Cue: The land can be very steep ? and the soil very poor. It could be any number of places but, in fact, we are going now to the north western province of Cameroon. This is an English speaking area. The provincial capital is Bamenda. Women do much of the hard work of farming, struggling to stop the soil from sliding down the slopes. They have many problems ? not least poverty. And they are a long way from the more affluent cities of Yaounde and Douala. But, fighting for the rights of women in the village of Bali, is Rebecca Azoadam, as she tells Sarah Reynolds IN: ?In fact, the village is a large one . . . OUT: . . . alleviate their present situation.? DUR?N 4?18? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Rebecca Azoadam fighting for the rights of the Bali Women?s Union of Farming Groups. Transcript Azoadam In fact, the village is a large one, with so many women?s groups working in separate groups with their own objectives. And what I am doing with them is that I bring them together under the canopy of the union and try to enlighten them on their rights as women. I try to give them some training to develop in their potential areas especially as far as farming is concerned. We try to do certain aspects to liberate them from the traditional and custom practices, which hinder their development. Because as you know the women farmers, especially in the north-west, their rights as rural developers are not recognised. Reynolds But do they want to be liberated? Do they want their rights recognised? Azoadam Yes, they want it. They want it to be recognised by the men and then the society at large. So for this reason we want to make them know that farming is not a source of suffering. It's just like one of those activities carried in the society in order to help develop your family, develop society at large. Reynolds But farming is very difficult. I?ve been to Bamenda ? it?s not easy. Azoadam It is. It is difficult because we still use the old archaic farming tools. The farming tools that you have to find a woman bend right down, almost bending to the ground, in order to work, and labours a lot. That is why you see many of the women by the age of 45/50 they suffer from lumbago because they keep straining, they bend to till the soil. If we could have a way of helping these women through modern farming tools, modern farming techniques, I think it will go a long way to improve the life conditions of these rural women. Reynolds But is it really a question of modern farming techniques, or is it a question of the price that they can get for what they produce? Azoadam Yes, when they are skilful, and what they are producing they will have a good price for what they are producing because the first thing is that the skill is not there due to lack of information. The women lack information on how to go about their farming system. Reynolds Are the people in your group using fertilisers? Inorganic fertilisers, bought, you know, in the bag from the market. Azoadam Actually, the inorganic fertilisers are used but very few of them use it because most of them would have been interested in using it but they cannot afford for it. Even myself, who has some other thing to do before the farming, I find it difficult to afford for two bags in a large farm that I have. So my women are there. They are helpless. They can?t afford this. Now there are small micro-projects that they carry in their little groups. Sometimes, they come with up some few francs and they can buy some few bags and distribute. Reynolds They share? Azoadam When they share this, it cannot do as much as they wanted. Reynolds How many people would share a bag? Azoadam A bag can go, say for five people in some groups. A bag can go for ten people in some groups. Reynolds So what do you see the future then? Because there are so many problems. Do you feel that it really starts in the home, in the family, with the traditional attitude of people to women, that that is really the important thing to change and everything else will follow? Azoadam Yes, we are already engaged in that. We are really trying to see how we can change the traditional practices out of and get these women liberated from it. So that they can be able to get information which will help them and alleviate their present situation. End of track.