Monday, 14 October 2013

Today is International Day of Rural Women

Classified as: reflective journal, feminist theory, advocacy

Tuesday 15th October 2013* was/is (depending where in the world you are today) International Day of Rural Women

As someone who grew up on a farm, I'm conscious that the role of rural people in our country is sometimes overlooked.

The role of women in rural life has often been particularly overlooked. In fact, our first Australian national census in 19011, as well as saying that Aboriginal natives should not be counted, also said that the unpaid work of women in farming should not be counted, even though it was recognised that women often did a lot of such work, particularly on dairy farms.

As this international day highlights, the role of rural women has also been overlooked in many other countries, including poorer and less urbanised countries, where women's role in food security for their families and communities is so important.

In this research project, I have found that interest in being close to nature, growing food, Indigenous heritage and knowledge, and feminism, are often interlinked in complex ways. I plan to highlight some of these links in a project update soon.

I know that in my own case, growing up with children of Aboriginal heritage (even though this heritage wasn't talked about) is a precious part of my life experience. At our little one teacher primary school, we used to come to school early some mornings in spring so that we could go into the nearby bush and look for greenhood orchids and other interesting plants, like ink plants, as we called them. We also used to drink nectar from the gum blossom and eat the gum off wattle trees on the way home from school (until somebody's mother said it would give us appendicitis!).

Some other links of interest in relation to the themes of rural life, Indigenous knowledge, and women in rural life, are:

Via Campesina movement
This movement promotes the cause of small scale, peasant and family farming, including its role in food security

The First People's Movement
This movement states that:
The single unifying issue facing Indigenous Peoples everywhere is how to protect their territories and stop the “asset stripping” that robs them of their livelihoods and the foundation of their cultures. Without land and control of their assets, Indigenous Peoples are destined to remain the world’s poorest communities – with the worst health, highest mortality rate and shortest life span.

National Rural Women's Coalition
This is the coordinating body for rural women's networks across Australia. Again, while noting that rural people are sometimes seen as (and sometimes are) conservative, it's good to see that the coalition has two Indigenous representatives on its eight-woman board.

(*Not Sunday 13th October 2013  as it was when I first wrote this post, but dates and times have never been my strong point!)
Reference information:
I wrote an analysis of the 1911 National Census in my MA thesis Bodywaves: changing meanings of maternity and work in twentieth century Australia (Monash University 1994). This analysis particularly drew on the work of Desley Deacon in 'Political Arithmetic: the Nineteenth-Century Australian Census and the Construction of the Dependent Woman' in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 1985 Vol 11(1)
This post is classified as:
Feminism - theory and practice
Indigenous - Indigenous heritage and knowledge
Food - food security
Nature and health - access to nature

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