Rural Women’s Intangible Role in Agriculture Economy

Rural Women’s Intangible  Role in Agriculture Economy
Rural Women’s Intangible  Role in Agriculture Economy

Rural women constitute a major part of the agricultural workforce in Iran and play a significant role in the agricultural economy. But their contributions are often intangible and statistics regarding the extent of their activity in farm production hardly reflect their actual contribution.

With large groups of rural men regularly migrating to urban areas to seek higher incomes, the burden of carrying out agricultural activities often falls on the women who stay behind.  

Unfortunately, despite their hard work and high rate of involvement in farm production and in preventing degradation of agricultural land as well as protection of the environment and natural resources, they do not receive any regular income. Additionally, their overall earnings are far too low, Khabaronline reported.

Rural women’s role in the economy of agriculture and their success in farm development programs are not cited in the national accounts. Because in official statistics, seasonal, part time and no wage jobs and activities, are often not considered.

An assessment some years ago of women’s economic activities in the rural area of Ramsar County in the northern Mazandaran Province showed that 96% of rural women had at least participated once in an economic activity that supplemented the family income. Women are one of the most effective economic groups in rural areas, since on an average, they do more than 40% of the work in agriculture and 90% in handicrafts.

 Gov’t Measures

The government has taken several measures to support rural women and prevent their migration to urban areas, says Shahidokht Molaverdi, first vice-president for Women and Family Affairs.

In this regard, a MoU was signed by her office and the Agricultural Jihad Ministry for economic empowerment of rural and nomadic women.  Accordingly, 12 nomadic funds were established and 64 lending programs for rural women were extended.

Under the MoU, 71 rural and 4 nomadic women acquired skills under the ‘Training of Trainers’ (TOT) program, essential in establishing partnerships with other rural and tribal women in socio-economic activities.

Each fund has 30 members and more than 20,000 rural and nomadic women benefit from the credit lending plans, says Forough Sadat Banihashem, advisor to the minister of agriculture.

“Nearly 60% of tasks associated with livestock farming are performed by rural and nomadic women. Also, 70% of vegetables and 90% of sericulture products are produced by women farmers,” Banihashem said.

“Rural women in the northern provinces including Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan undertake 70% of the activities related to rice transplanting,” she pointed out.

At least 10 million women live in rural areas constituting 49% of the rural population and their contribution to the agro-economy is indeed significant.