The Plight of Rural Women

Amie Sillah flanked by Gullo Mawdor and Ganya Baldeh

By: Amie Sillah

Their life needs not be romanticized; it is their lived reality. She wakes up at dawn to pound the grain for breakfast, lunch and dinner with her baby on her back. She walks to the field and works with crude, backbreaking tools when the baby sleeps. She puts her/him in a close by makeshift shed to offer her child optimum breastfeeding in a place where there is no village day care centre. She brings along her lunch pack and when it is time for lunch she eats and then continues the backbreaking labour. Every activity is physical.
Her nutrition is mostly full of cheap carbohydrate with little protein or none at all. Protein food is not affordable if available; it is sold to add value to the food. Some eat vegetables, if taught, but the majority sell them to get money to buy manufactured goods.
At weekends she engages in laundry. Many a times she fetches water from a deep well or walks afar with other women or daughters, if there is any to fetch water for the household. There is no rest for my sister, that’s why she welcomes polygamy in order to rest when it is not her turn to cook and sleep with her husband or to employ many hands to lessen the household drudgery.
She is expected to have a lot of babies with no child spacing.

“Allah will provide for the offspring and there is no need to space them.” “Family planning is ‘haram’,” the patriarchs preach.
Exhaustion due to household drudgery, excessive childbirth, polygamy, competition for as many male children as possible, poor health facilities and unaffordable medical bills lead her to take traditional medicine which is often taken under unhygienic condition and without dosage etc. Poor nutrition in quantity and quality, backbreaking crude farm tools aged her quickly. Malaria and other contagious diseases can shorten her life and make her gone forever leaving her children, grandchildren in poverty and penury.
After harvest she suffered post-harvest losses, lack of markets to sell her products; at the mercy of middle persons who buys them at cut throat prices. This is the picture of her life; how can New Gambia come to her aid?
Her Needs: She needs inputs, fertilizer, farm implements, storage facilities if she deals in organic stuff, markets and fair prices. She also needs soft loans from cooperative banks.
Her Expectations: She was pregnant during the change of 2nd December 2016 for over 52 years when for the first time in Gambian history we effected change through our Vote. Her pregnant condition did not deter her to campaign far and wide to convince her fellow women to vote for change. She walked afar in jubilation of a new dawn. Please new Gambia my sister is waiting to better her life and that of her family. She speaks for the multitude.
Two women, I cannot gauge their ages, but can safely say of middle age walked into my office to complain that they used to pay for power tillers to plough their farms but that has not been available this year which handicaps them as to the size of land they can plough. Now they want new Gambia to come to their aid. Gullo Mawdor and Ganya Baldeh from Sare Yorro Tacko and Sare Wuring respectfully in Lower Fulladu West await a positive response.