Did you know that the 15th of October was the International Day of Rural Women? To celebrate, I thought I would post some facts and figures provided by others about community empowerment when women own land.

Since 2008, the day has recognized “the contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty”.

Supporting women in rural areas has multiple social and economic benefits, including;

  • Women’s empowerment benefits not only women themselves, but also their families and communities.
  • Farm productivity increases when women have access to agricultural inputs and relevant knowledge.
  • Women are dynamic organizers and participants in grass-roots organizations, and are effective in promoting and sustaining local self-help initiatives.
  • Malnutrition and mortality among both boys and girls are reduced when girls obtain greater access to primary and secondary education.
  • There is a strong correlation between women’s literacy and lower HIV/AIDS infection rates.
  • Women have a strong track record as prudent savers and borrowers in microfinance programmes, using income to benefit the entire household.

“Investing” (note the economic bias in the language) contributes to food security because women work longer hours than men.

According to the World Bank, 75 per cent of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas.11 While women work the land, they often do not hold formal and clear land titles. Less than two per cent of land in the developing world is owned by women, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).12 A lack of rights over land makes women extremely vulnerable to eviction and negatively affects their economic options. (WomenWatch)

At a seminar last week in honour of the day, researchers spoke about gender and land acquisition in rural agricultural communities.

The researchers also found that although many women spoke of ‘owning land,’ they, in fact, did not have any real legal rights to it.  Many of the joint-ownership agreements between spouses only included the husbands’ name in paperwork or granted him priority over his wife when making financial decisions.  Even land inherited from the woman’s family was often signed over to the husband without her knowledge. And in many cases, the degree to which a wife had legal protection of land rights depended entirely on the type of marriage arrangement she had with her husband.

Even in a country like Australia, I would suspect that fewer women own land than men, but in India, 70% of the female workforce is engaged in agriculture yet only 10% of women farmers own land.

Despite this attention given to the situation of rural women, discrimination remains rampant, from access to education and health care, to access to and control over land and other productive resources, to opportunities for employment, income-generating activities, and participation in public life. The rights and priorities of rural women continue to be insufficiently addressed – a situation that the International Day of Rural Women will, it is hoped, contribute to remedying.

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Here in Tassie, the weather has become a bit more unpredictable; wet and windy with a sprinkling of snow. Yes, we are very nearly at the official end of winter.

The comfort food I have been indulging in has broadened my waistline. My evenings are still mostly spent in. I sleep long, but awaken refreshed.

But the odd springlike day has me thinking of upping my exercise and downing my alcohol and food consumption. I tend to crave more fresh greens and less the steamed ones. I start to dream of summer fruit. Not so much of the tropical fruits, but rather of cherries and berries, which will be plentiful in the Tasmanian summer.

I have been observing seasonal changes in my surroundings and wondering what it would be like if I mirrored these seasonal patterns in my own life.

If I lived seasonally, perhaps I wouldn’t be working every week. Perhaps sometimes I would work in the office or studio a number of days in a row and then break for a month to tend gardens and friendships. I probably wouldn’t adhere to a nine-to-five routine. Possibly, if I lived seasonally, I’d spend my winters somewhere warmer, returning each spring to Tasmania.

Here are links to a few websites that discuss seasonal living:

Living With The Seasons: What Are You Doing Right Now? A nice post about seasonal living, Ziggy ends by asking: “What would it look like if we all lived more seasonally? What would you be doing right now?”

James likes to get his gear off, and he also talks about living seasonally here: James’ Diary by James Strawbridge

Cooking seasonally: Naturally Simple Blog

Living in Season: slow time, seasonal celebrations, holidays This is a whole website devoted to seasons, and while I’m not really fond of the design, it features some interesting recipes and links (for example Nocino or Walnut Liqueur!)

If you have seasonal living experiences you have blogged about or would like to share, please email me enquiry[at]herenowcollective.com.au or post a comment on the blog.

Some simple tips for going green

Many of us are doing what we can in our own homes to reduce our footprints and be sustainable. What about the workplace?

Turning off lights, reducing paper-use, recycling office consumables and using public transport or car-sharing are all easily implementable options.

I love Friends of the Earth’s approach, but unfortunately the suggestions are UK based. Here’s some Australian links:

ecobuy

econatural

Flexicar

Carpool

CarbonMarket

REAP ecopaper guide

For more practical suggestions to go green at your workplace try these links:

Planet Green

Sierra Club

The white mould forms on the outside of the cheese

I mean here in Hobart, not the philosophical ‘why am I here?’

Actually, Hobart is on the way to Cabanandra. I don’t mean this in a geographical sense, but rather in a strategic sense.

Ok, so Hobart is actually a city, not a country town, or an isolated rural area. However, moving away from Melbourne has provided us with new insights and a new set of skills.

We know that our relationship can survive the stresses of moving, and we can even laugh about it (later!). We know that we can find work, learn new skills, make new friends, and enjoy exploring a new place. Sure, there are plenty of things I might do differently, but I know I can do it again, when I need to.

Christmas is coming, and at the moment, its a great time to relax. To take in the glorious spring growth, eat lovely food, drink great wine and hang out with friends. To take stock of what we have achieved in just nine months, with little savings, but plenty of energy and passion.

Making (or finding) a place to call your own isn’t just about buying (or building) a house. It is just as important to pay attention to all those other things: work, friends, exploring, socialising and community participation. In some ways we have down-sized. We earn less, we have less space, we have fewer possessions. But looked at another way, we have actually up-sized.

No, we are not just surviving, we are thriving.

Some links to Sea / Tree change stories (not all positive)

Charles Sturt University research

Regional Living Australia blog post

The Sea Change

Transformations Journal

Rural life not so sweet

Live the Dream

Elizabeth and the beech treesDear all

Sorry that I haven’t been a good correspondent. I am thinking of you, and hoping you are all well. If you want to keep up with my doings, check this page out, or go to www.samaram.com.au, where I am posting lots of stuff about art. You could join Twitter! I am often to be found there as well.

Due to my recent Macbook Mishap (hard-drive died), I have decided to re-visit and re-publish some posts from my early blogs of 2008 (from Cabanandra Dreaming, as an ode to the beauty of backups! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dear readers, back-up!

Systems Thinking Part 2

Eleanor Rosch distinguishes between two types of knowledge: analytical knowledge (cognitive science) and what she terms “wisdom awareness” or “primary knowing.”

Says Rosch: “The analytic picture offered by the cognitive sciences is this: the world consists of separate objects and states of affairs. The human mind is a determinate machine which, in order to know: isolates and identifies those objects and events, finds the simplest possible predictive contingencies between them, stores the results through time in memory, relates the items in memory to each other such that they form a coherent but indirect representation of the world and oneself, and retrieves those representations in order to fulfill the only originating value, which is to survive and reproduce in an evolutionarily successful manner.”

In contrast, “Awareness is said to [be knowing] by means of interconnected wholes (rather than isolated contingent parts) and by means of timeless, direct, presentation (rather than through stored re-presentations). Such knowing is ‘open,’ rather than determinate; and a sense of unconditional value, rather than conditional usefulness, is an inherent part of the act of knowing itself. Action from awareness is claimed to be spontaneous, rather than the result of decision making; it is compassionate, since it is based on wholes larger than the self; and it can be shockingly effective.”

In one of my previous posts  ( Indigenous Law vs Blunt Tools) I talked about UNDERSTANDING, which I think is something like this ‘wisdom awareness’ that Rosch talks about.

So how does it relate to building? Well, I think that many of the things that we all love in our homes are universal things. For example a sense of warmth, comfort, protection, security, light and etc. So building ‘eco-friendly’ (which owner builders understand because they have learnt it through experience!) such as using passive solar principles, using local labour, sustainable materials, building as a response to the environment, etc, could also be universal thing. BUT, it must be available at the level of ‘wisdom awareness’ or ‘primary thinking’. This cannot come from more legislation.

As Sam Sergi says in my earlier blog

SAM SERGI: I do believe we need parameters to kind of work in with if it’s going to help the environment, because we need to look towards the future and try and economise, yeah, but by the same token, you know, need to have a sense of “this is what I feel I would like to have”.

This sense is the UNDERSTANDING or wisdom awareness that I refer to.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Anyway here are some photos of recent goings on in Taswegia. Including another visit to Mt Field and caving at Mystery Creek. Cheers.