BUJUMBURA March 30th (ABP) – The Acting Director General for the Empowerment of Women and the Advancement of Girls at the Ministry of National Solidarity, Social Affairs, Human Rights and Gender, Ms. Claudine Ahishakiye and the president of the Dushirehamwe association, Mrs. Pascasie Sinzinkayo confirmed, during an interview with the ABP, that rural women are pillars of the economic development of families and the country.
Mrs. Ahishakiye first recalled that in general, in Burundi, rural women are in the majority compared to the rest of the population in general and to educated women in particular.
According to the 2008 general population census (RGP) conducted by ISTEEBU, Burundi’s economy is essentially agricultural. The primary sector (agriculture, livestock) employs 90% of the working people, of which 55.2% is female.
A study by the FAO (in 2002) also indicates that 97.4% of rural women work in the agricultural sector, the dominant activity of the Burundian economy which brings in an added value of more than 50% of the GDP, and 95% of the food supply.
Mrs. Ahishakiye added that “Rural women in Burundi are the backbone of families and the engine of the economy”. She explained that women mark a strong presence in the agricultural labor force in activities such as plowing, sowing, weeding, harvesting, transport, conservation, processing and marketing of agricultural products. They must also take on all the household chores, including water supply for the family, finding fuel, cooking, household cleanliness in addition to caring for children and livestock, improving food security and combating poverty. “Without them life and development of households is not possible,” insisted Mrs. Ahishakiye.
She did not forget to point out that the ministry in charge of gender is making a lot of efforts to empower rural women. She also welcomed the step already taken by rural women in understanding the advantage of working together by grouping together in cooperatives to access credit in order to carry out development projects to achieve their socio-economic empowerment.
For the president and legal representative of the “Dushirehamwe” association involved in the field of women’s empowerment, she also argued that “the contribution of rural women to the development of Burundian society remains the irreversible pillar in the national economy.” She explained that the women grouped together in tontines or CILC associations and others have demonstrated extraordinary strength and have been at the root of spectacular social changes within households, often with few means.
Nevertheless, she lamented, they remain fragile insofar as they are made up of illiterate members and do not always have sufficient knowledge to work professionally. In addition, some women still lack self-esteem. Other challenges reported are that rural women, the majority of whom work in agriculture, have not been sufficiently sensitized and trained in modern agricultural techniques. In addition, the lack of selected seeds and inputs, and climate change, cause the latter to record losses in production.
Mrs. Sinzinkayo also deplores the fact that rural women do not have the right to land, explaining that the land which is the basis of agricultural production belongs to the man. Women have neither access to control over the benefits from productive resources nor the power to decide on their use.
Sévère Hatungimana and Catherine Ndayishimiye from Nyakanazi village, Gishubi commune of Gitega province, are members of the “Nawe Nuze” development group encouraging people to save together to then allow mutual loans at a reasonable interest rate. Each member contributes 600 BIF per week. Thus, declared Mrs. Hatungimana: “I contracted a loan of 50 thousand from the Nawe Nuze group of which I am a member. I bought a piglet and two rabbits. After a few months, they started reproducing. Each time a pig is born, which can even reach more than 9 piglets, I sell them and I also sell adult rabbits and a few young rabbits. The money found in this sale allows me to meet the needs of my family. The manure from this farm is used to fertilize my crops. My family’s life has been improved thanks to the Nawe Nuze group. »
The practice of traditional agriculture means that production is not abundant. It asks the Ministry of Agriculture to be close to farmers to demonstrate good agricultural practices, multiply selected seeds and make inputs available. Polygamy and violence against women by some men also handicap the development of women, laments Mrs. Sévère Hatungimana.