Opinion

Encourage women to engage in income generating activities

By Paul Jimbo

A couple of days ago, I had a discussion with three male friends, apparently they were all locals.

Our discussion centered on whether women should engage in income generating activities or sits back at home and wait for their husbands to feed them.

One of them insisted that he would never allow his wife to engage in any business because he fears other men might seduce his wife.

The other argued that women have what it takes to successfully run businesses and so his wife is actually in-charge of his family business in Juba.

I strategically kept my cool, ears strained on the third friend’s contribution to the raging debate.

And so he thundered, “It is better for a woman to engage in something irrespective of how small the business is. It will subsidize her husband’s income.”

At this point I breathed a sigh of relief because I had identified like-minded and allies in the debate.

I knew quiet well that only one buddy had divergent views against the rest of us and so it wasn’t going to be a monumental task to convert him into a human rights activist and women empowerment champion.

I then chipped in and told them, “My parents were both primary school teachers but I can confess that were it not for my mother’s income, the six of us could have not gone to school.”

To drive my point home, I simply told them that two heads or hands are better than one and that it was my mother’s small income that topped up my father’s meager salary to see us through school.

It reached a time things were extremely difficult, three of us had all been sent home for school fees but my mother came in handy, she applied for an emergency loan with a women group where she was a member and the following day we went back to school.

The point I’m driving to here is that women too can play very vital roles in their family’s welfare but we have to empower them.

Gone were the days the society viewed women as third-class people who had little capacity to successfully do anything.

This kind of talk should never be tolerated especially when the whole world has accepted reality that women empowerment can drive economies.

In some cases like South Sudan, rural communities can even form women groups and engage in farming to generate some income.

However it is unfortunate that some individuals think that women can become threats to men if allowed space to manage certain affairs of the society.

When women engage in farming activities, for example, they would save time and resources used to acquire the same farm produces from the markets.

Empowering rural women can directly solve food insecurity. This can be done through enhanced knowledge and awareness creation on food production, modern farming techniques and providing them with modern farm implements and incentives such as seeds and fertilizer.

When more food is produced locally prices of the same will be cheaper in the market and the cost of living will be generally lowered down.

For example, since the inception of Akuru  Ko Wate Women group in 2012, the group has been able to receive support from different well-wishers including United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

“We started cultivating with three acres of vegetables and groundnut for our group and after getting we started processing the vegetable so that they can be sold in outside Juba,” says Ms Mary Harris Deputy Chairperson of.

Interestingly, six men have joined the group of 60 women in their farming activities.

She says the little money they earn helps them to pay school fee for their children.

However organizations and the government should realize that empowering women economically does not end at funding them but includes finding them ready markets for their farm produces.

This would save them a lot from trekking the long distances in search of markets. There is nothing as discouraging as having produces without a ready market.

The question is, why would a farmer in Uganda find a ready market in South Sudan or even a poultry farmer in Brazil find ready market for his products in South Sudan when a local farmer.

Let us support and empower our rural women to engage in any form of income generating activities because then children will be able to go to school, cases of malnutrition will reduce because we will be having variety of foods at home and this will have an indirect impact on our economy.

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