Women world over have a crucial role to play in general food production and specifically in providing food for household consumption. Women have a great responsibility for providing household food in Africa. Providing food for the family, particularly in arid areas that receive erratic rains with long dry spells in between, is by no means an easy task for Africa’s women. There is no doubt that women are the backbone of their households’ welfare as they are often seen doing numerous chores around the houses. In rural south-eastern Zimbabwe province of Masvingo, as in much of Africa, key household chores such as fetching water and firewood are normally reserved for the women who graciously make them a part of their lives.
Rural fish farming is possible mainly because of the efforts by women who tirelessly provide labour and feed the fish until they mature and become ready for the pot back home. However, men prefer to reserve lighter work to women and whenever possible they do most of the tough and daunting tasks such as tilling the fields. In the absence of men, the heavy workloads are broken down into small manageable tasks that can be spread over many women. Thus women are capable of making earthen fish ponds construction possible. The key ingredient to success is making the work light enough for women.
I have had an opportunity to observe women at work on their own. Armed with basic tools such as picks, mattock, shovels, buckets and wheelbarrows, women have constructed fish ponds that have the potential to supply fish to their entire villages.
Upon completion, some women were asked the question “What next?” The answers were as diverse as the women’s backgrounds yet all aimed at achieving one goal: making food available for the family. I am not much travelled so wouldn’t know the women from other parts of the world, but from this part, the commitment and dedication of women in making the lives of their household members better is almost unbelievable.