Rural women play a crucial role in the management and conservation of natural resources and the wellbeing and livelihood of rural households and communities.

They account for a significant proportion of the labour force in food systems, working as farmers, harvesters and collectors, seed keepers, fisherfolks, wage earners and entrepreneurs.

In Malawi, women make up 51% of the agricultural labour force. Women and girls in rural areas tend to sustain an even heavier workload due to the out-migration of men. The lack of infrastructure in many areas, including for water and sanitation, and other productive resources and assets, requires that biomass fuels and water are collected, and food materials processed manually.

Rural women’s contributions are also essential for conserving biodiversity as they play a leading role as ecosystem managers. They are guardians and defenders of water, seeds, forests, territories and ecosystems.

Through local knowledge and experience, rural women often understand their environment and their community’s needs better than anyone else. They pass on traditional knowledge in medicinal plants, and they contribute significantly to sustaining agriculture, food security, nutrition and health. This is why at SFS we celebrate their resilience and advocate for better and ecosystem enhancing initiatives and practices like bee keeping that allow rural women to earn more.