Adolescent Girls In Rural Communities – An Untapped Resource

Global food prices’ volatility continue to be on the rise, hitting poor consumers in developing countries the hardest. High food prices contribute to food insecurity and overall poverty. The most powerful sources of social change can come from an untapped resource – rural adolescent girls. Girls can spur economic growth, increase agriculture productivity, reduce land degradation and satisfy food supply demands. 

Catherine Bertini and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs underscores how girls can play a pivotal role in supporting rural  families, often functioning both out in the field and within the household.  If women and men had equal privileges to productive resources and training, women’s agriculture yields would rise by approximately 25 per cent.  Likewise, national agriculture output could rise between 2.5 to 4 per cent. Currently women comprise 20 to 50 per cent of the agriculture work force in poor countries. 

Currently, rural households have minimal resources to assist them in combating high food prices. The more impoverished the household, the more necessary it becomes for the family to find an alternative means by which to support themselves. Many households have little money to spend on healthcare, education and food, resulting in rural families having no choice but to work harder and put in longer hours. 

Catherine Bertini has devised a set of recommendations on relevant topics such as primary education, economic growth, and health. These suggestions are to help policymakers and donors alike facilitate girls to become agents of change within their communities. Notably, Bertini underscored the significance of secondary schooling. With a concrete education, rural adolescent girls can grow to become key players in the rural economy in the roles of entrepreneurs and managers. Girls should have a prominent voice on controversial issues pertaining to both the household and the outside community. Ultimately girls will have the potential to effect dramatic change upon rural economies. 

Unfortunately rural adolescent girls face multiple obstacles. Age, demographics, and sex stymie the potential that girls have to successfully become pivotal sources of change in their communities. There is an instinctual family hierarchy in which the priorities of girls always come last. Local traditions also play a crucial role. It is more common for an urban baby’s birth to be registered than those born in rural communities. Additionally, weight loss is twice as likely to be an issue that would plague a rural child’s mind then their urban counterpart. 

These disadvantages can become obsolete with the help of non-governmental organisations and community networks. Together they have the potential to form a foundation that would support a coalition between policy makers, sponsors, and adolescent girls’ awareness initiatives. Change can come, even if it starts with just a single girl.

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