From Empowerment to Rural Feminism

It’s no secret that Mexican culture is rich and diverse. But what happens when the differences that distinguish us become a stigma that divides and marginalizes? Today, as we celebrate the International Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, it’s important to reflect on the role of women in rural communities, in order to promote development.

At The Hunger Project, we say that hunger and extreme poverty are consequences of the lack of access to the most basic human rights. That’s why it’s important to make visible the links that exist between development, poverty, the environment, and gender, to understand development as a right that integrates the set of all human rights (Gómez Isa, 1999). From this perspective, the right to development recognizes the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights and emphasizes that true development is not possible without the effective implementation of all of them.

At The Hunger Project, we promote development led by communities with gender equality, that is, a development that starts with the community participation of different social groups, starting with women. So that they can express their needs and interests, be active agents of development and that leads to the social, economic and political empowerment of women with a view to achieving equality.

We understand that for this development to occur, it is necessary to empower women and provide a favorable environment for it. This is not an easy task since human rights violations occur from the existence of a patriarchal, discriminatory and sexist social structure that subjugates women and girls, which governs through welfare and sectoral programs, and which justifies devastating the environment.

This social structure is more accentuated in rural communities since depending on the degree of social marginalization in which they are located, it will be the level at which the most traditional roles and stereotypes will be rooted. The higher the level of marginalization, the more difficult it will be to open up to new ways of thinking and living, creating a hostile terrain to achieve real equality between men and women.

The greater exposure of women to poverty is due to the increase in levels of insecurity, precariousness, and vulnerability suffered by their subordinate position to men in the patriarchal system of gender relations (Murguialday, 1999).

That’s why, in order to achieve true sustainable development, we have to make visible and change that conservative and closed patriarchal structure in order to build a new one that is inclusive, one that redistributes the asymmetry that exists in power, build new spaces of coexistence, and equality so that rural women don’t continue to be the expression of inequality.

Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, the whole society benefits. Hence, it’s fundamental to recognize the power of women, facilitate their physical, social, economic and political empowerment, as well as create new permanent structures so that they have a voice in the decision spaces.

It has been proven that when women gain a voice in these spaces, they make health, food, education and income generation their highest priorities and allows them to take measures against domestic violence, child marriage, child labor and especially, to support other women to know their rights.

The Hunger Project firmly believes that empowering women to become key agents of change is an essential element to achieve an end to hunger and poverty. Our programs aim at sustainable integral development starting with women to develop their capacities and promote their leadership, as well as transforming the social structure so that men and women working together, overcome differences and achieve social cohesion, the key to sustainability and the future progress.

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