Peace Parks Foundation is passionate about helping to better women’s lives, particularly those in rural communities that are the most disadvantaged, unfortunately even more so during this pandemic.

Accounting for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, rural women play a crucial role in agriculture, food security and nutrition, yet they face daily struggles. They are less likely to have access to quality health services, essential medicines and other basic services. Furthermore, a lot of rural women suffer from isolation as well as the spread of misinformation and a lack of access to critical technologies that might improve their work and personal life.

In an attempt to counter these significant challenges Peace Parks Foundation continually looks for new ways to help rural women. At the height of the pandemic they trained women to sew masks so that they could make money of their own. Girls are being taught about the environment and shown how they can play a valuable part in building a positive future for their community as well as learning about their rights and how to stand up for them. Other initiatives like the simple treadle pump are fundamental to changing many rural women’s lives. Instead of hauling bucketloads of water long distances from a river to irrigate their crops, this simple human-powered pump does the hard work, making watering easier work.

Through their support and involvement in the Southern African Wildlife College and the SA College of Tourism, Peace Parks and partners are helping hundreds of impoverished, unskilled young women to retrain in areas like the hospitality industry or as rangers out in the field. This enables them to find employment within the tourism infrastructure supported by transfrontier conservation areas, which continue to be a path out of poverty and towards a sustainable quality of life.

It is all part of tackling the tough conditions many rural women live under in Africa. The theme for this International Day of Rural Women is “Building rural women’s resilience in the wake of COVID-19,” to create awareness of these women’s struggles, their needs, and their critical and key role in our society. Peace Parks and partners recognise the crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, and in building a more sustainable future for all.