Mariana arranges her home grown tomatoes on the shelf of a local grocery store in Montúfar. Copyright: WFP/Gabriela Malo
October 15th marks the International Day of Rural Women. WFP, UN Women, FAO, and UNICEF have joined the Women's Association of Parochial Rural Ecuador to assist in exemplifying the impact that rural women have in our world today. The following article summarizes the impact that Mariana, one of these rural women, is having in her community.
QUITO- It was 8 am and Mariana stood standing in the doorway of a local grocery store in Montúfar in Carchi with her son Andrew and three boxes of beets. The store offers the public fruits and vegetables as part of a food assistance programme, in which Mariana is an active participant.
She and other women farmers along with the support of multiple organizations, work in unison to provide fresh produce for food assistance programmes. These programmes are organized by the local government and the World Food Programme (WFP). Their products are exchanged for WFP vouchers, and Mariana and other participants receive payment from the local government office.
Location: Mezzanine United Nations Building, 2889 Ave Amazonas and La Granja
Date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Time: 9:30 am
Mariana, a rural woman from Carchi, has improved her sales since joining the Association "Seeking a Better Future". This association is one of the organized groups working with this project. Along with thirteen other small female producers and four male colleagues, they provide fresh food to local grocery stores. Besides beets, Mariana grows spinach, zucchini, radishes, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, red cabbage, oca, ulluco, artichoke, blackberry, tree tomato, white onion, and banana passionfruit.
Mariana knows that her produce is going to needy families in Montúfar, especially those with young children. The need to consume fruits and vegetables is great because they provide the micronutrients these children need to grow and develop healthily. Other participants that benefit greatly from this programme are refugee families, who have sought asylum in Ecuador.
Rural women like Mariana have a crucial role to play in the on-going improvement of the nutrition within families of their communities. The local markets are stimulated; this is a win-win for families and women farmers. At home, there is more variety in regards to their diets and the food that is avaliable. In the countryside, women tend to their crops and make sure they are grown healthily, and with respect to nature. They also have the power to decide what to grow in their gardens, and what nutritious goods to take home.
Mariana lingers in the doorway a moment. She likes to see how families carry out her home grown beets. By providing the towns and cities with nutritious food, water and the knowledge of how to respect the enviorment, rural women like Mariana contribute to preserving and improving life in Ecuador.
The need to maintain and support food security of these families, coupled with the desire to improve the livelihoods of small farmers, led the Montúfar Municipality and other local governments with the assistance of the World Food Programme (WFP) to take an active role in helping to change the communities.
The families who need to improve their food and nutrition security receive vouchers from WFP. These vouchers can be redeemed at outlets like this, close to the northern border. Local government shares the costs and processes the payments to the small farmers.