THE ESSENTIAL (AND INVISIBLE) WORK OF THE OLIVE-GROWING WOMEN

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, also called International Working Women’s Day, to enhance their essential role in society and to strengthen their own development on an equal participation with men.

From Olivatia we wish to promote the figure of rural women workers and in particular to highlight their position in the rural work place which for too long has been overlooked and still lags far behind other sectors that have improved working women’s conditions and equality.

Rural women, who account for more than a quarter of the world’s total population, are mostly dependent on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods.

In developing countries, rural women make up approximately 43 per cent of the agricultural labor force. Their work is to produce, process and prepare much of the food consumed in the world today, something truly essential in countries where thousands of people do not have access to a guaranteed minimum daily food supply. As a result, rural women are critical to the success of the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda for 2030.

76% of the extreme poor live in rural areas. That is why ensuring the access of rural women to productive agricultural resources is a decisive factor in reducing hunger and poverty in the world. Another important day to remember this commendable work is October 15, International Day of Rural Women.

In the world of olive groves, the Federation of Andalusian Rural Women’s Associations (FADEMUR), (the region that produces the most oil in the world), the work of women in the countryside is invisible because it does not generate individual rights nor a future.

According to data of the Social Security in Spain, half of the people registered in the special agricultural regime are women. However, when talking about agricultural entrepreneurs, the figure drops considerably: in Andalusia, less than 30% of agricultural entrepreneurs are women.

Also women who perform seasonal work are generally the first to be laid off when the harvest campaign is at a low production. Landowners primarily employ men without regard to the fact that this work is not directly related to force, but rather a matter of expertise.

Although lately, small steps are being taken towards equality. Since 1996 there has been a salary equalization between men and women in olive harvesting, and, only ten years ago, a Spanish Organic Law 3/2007 was passed for the effective equality of women and men, in which article 5 highlights the the right to “equal treatment and opportunities in access to employment, in vocational training and promotion, and in working conditions”.

Although the law is gradually moving towards equality, practice shows that there is still a long way to go to give agricultural women the job they deserve.

Today is an important day to recognize their excellent work in the field and their invaluable contribution to the world of olive oil.

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