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Today in the Mission Yearbook

International Day of Rural Women


Rural women have a role in the eradication of poverty and sustainable development of Malawi

October 15, 2022

The International Day of Rural Women is observed on Oct. 15, the day before World Food Day, to bring attention to the “significant contributions [of women] to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.” This year’s theme is ” Rural women cultivating good food for all.”

Women are selling their local farm products at the Kasupe Ministries Community Market. Photo courtesy of Kasupe Ministries.

Rural women in Malawi are not only the engine of sustainable development and poverty eradication in the country, but they are also the undisputed renewable fuel that powers the national economy. Malawi’s economy would collapse without the tireless labor of rural women. Rural women farm with their hands, producing millions of tons of food and other income generating products that sustain millions. There is no shop or a market in our cities that don’t have food supplies and other assorted merchandise produced by rural women from the most remote corners. More often than not, food and animal production activities are done using their meager resources sustainably.

Kasupe Ministries, a partner of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, targets rural women as an important segment of the population for our programs. We have two reasons for this. First, these women ensure that there is sustainability regardless of whether a project is funded by outside sources or not. This is possible through voluntary participation coupled with a forward-looking mindset. Our rural women rarely dwell much on short-term successes. They are forward-thinking, and always proactive. For example, planting a tree requires an individual with a mindset that is always looking ahead, a mind that is imagining a green world in 50 years’ time, even if her body has only 15 years of life left. Our rural women visualize what will happen if “this tree, at this particular location, will not be here in 2032.” These hardworking rural women visualize how their children will cook in 10 years’ time “if the village will have no firewood.” They take action to avert that kind of disaster. This kind of thinking propels them to act now in a way that will sustain the environment for decades to come, while at the same time reducing poverty. It’s a risk that has failures along the way, but our rural women are ready to learn and grow.

Esime Zagwa is the manager of this community village grocery store, the shop serves about 200 people daily. Photo courtesy of Kasupe Ministries.

Secondly, we target women as leaders and principal beneficiaries for our initiatives because of traditional and cultural values applicable to our area. Malawi is a highly patriarchal society but Balaka district, where we are, is predominantly matriarchal. In a nutshell, succession flows through the lineage of the mother. Cultural norms in the Kasupe area favor women because men who marry our women have to “permanently settle” at the wife’s place. For example, if a boy named Maliko, from a village outside Kasupe, marries Chisomo, a girl from Kasupe, he has to come and live with her forever. When boys from Kasupe area marry outside our area, they are the ones who have to move out. As a general rule, a family passes their land to the girl children. Most girls and women remain here in the Kasupe area and inherit land and other assets from their families. Consequently, for any project to succeed in our area, incorporating women is a plus in many ways.

The women of Kasupe Ministries, just like other rural women in Malawi, have had tremendous impact in implementing sustainable development and poverty eradication activities. In the past decade, our women have been involved directly or indirectly in the following programs: afforestation programs, food for work projects, food security programs, goat farming, local chicken farming, cow’s milk project, establishing of the Kasupe Women’s Bakery and Value Addition Centre, operations of Kasupe Community Market, getting involved in Kasupe HIV/AIDS Support Group, making bricks (as well as collection of sand and rocks) for construction of school buildings and the establishment of several kindergartens. No project listed here would have succeeded without the involvement of our rural women.

Fletcher L. Padoko, Executive Director of Kasupe Ministries in Malawi

Today’s Focus: International Day of Rural Women

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Tom Harvey, Mission co-worker serving in England, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Robert Hawkey, Director, IT Strategy & Transformation, Information Technology, Board of Pensions

Let us pray

Our Heavenly and Almighty Creator, before you, all human beings, regardless of location, find comfort, equality and deliverance from poverty. As we face your Holy Throne, we acknowledge the transformative contribution of the Rural Women who have contributed immensely to activities to reduce poverty and sustain the Mother Earth — our temporary home. Even as we look forward to eternal life in heaven, our rural women have carried us on their shoulders, nurtured us and fed us despite many difficulties. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for enabling our rural women to be productive for the sake of billions of human beings. We put our rural women into your caring hands because we believe in health and productive lives on this earth. Remember these women, oh God, in their daily endeavors and let them enjoy the fruits of their hands.