This October, women in Cameroon joined other women world wide in carrying out activities to venerate the rural woman. During the week dedicated for these activities, I did some interviews for my program ‘Feminine World’, during which a thought was ignited in my mind: who is a rural woman? In other words, are all rural women illiterate farmers? Or are farmers who reside in cities rural women per se.

Agriculture is the mainstay of every human society. In developing countries, the practice of subsistence farming is still to replace mechanized and industrialized farming. The champs of farming are the women who happen to reside mostly in the villages with inadequate health care, fewer opportunities for higher education and other advantages.

While doing a vox pop, I was asking each respondent the question ‘are you a rural woman or an urban woman and why? From their responses, I noticed that the public might be having a wrong notion of who a rural woman really is. Apart from failing to see the contributions rural women make in putting food on the table for city dwellers, some people (including women) think to be called a rural woman is an insult. In fact a woman could easily take offense if she were referred to as a rural woman even if she met the criteria defining one.

Are literate women who reside in villages rural women or not? Are illiterate women who reside in cities rural women or not? Do I need some lessons here people?


Edith, thanks for these great thoughts. You've brought up a really interesting point about the definition of rural women. It's a term we at World Pulse use occasionally, and I'm now realizing that we may not understand all the implications of the term. We'll definitely rethink the use of the term now!

Your program "Feminine World" sounds interesting—what is it exactly? I'd love to learn more, as it seems you're doing important and exciting work.

Hi Corine, thanks for your reaction. I would be glad if we rethink and maybe redefine who a rural woman is. About my program Feminine World, its a forum for men and women to sharte their views on issues fom health to society, empowermrnt, taboo and just anything surrounding the woman. I have talked on issues like ending violence against women and girls, coping with step children, women dating or marrying older men, breast and cervical cancers, writing a will and so much more. I get expert opinion on all these from competent authorities and the women and men get to share their views on a weekly vox pop. There is also a health and beauty corner for ladies. Hope you get to isten to the program some day. Bye



This is a great discussion! It seems that many people use the word "rural" without considering all its implications. I grew up hearing and using the word "rural" frequently in Alaska. There, we don't do much farming and illiteracy is perhaps less of an issue, so "rural" in my sense of the word was used to describe communities (villages or towns) that were remote. Remote meaning they were not easily accessible to visitors as there are few roads in Alaska and many communities are only reached by plane, boat (in the summer when rivers aren't frozen) or other means like dog sledding and snow mobiling in the winter months. These "rural" communities typically didn't have much access to technology and the way of life was more heavily affected by the elements and dependent on nature. However, I never stopped to ask any residents living in these communities if they considered themselves to be "rural". I guess for me, this brings about two definitions of what "rural" means - whether describing a location as rural or a person as rural. And does living in a rural location make you rural and does living in an urban location make you infact urban (or an urbanite).

I am interested to hear more about your own personal experience in Cameroon, what you've learned from your interviews and what other women here on PulseWire think. Thanks for writing this!

Edith, I would also like to invite you to participate in a new writing opportunity to be published in World Pulse Magazine. We are asking women around the world to tell us what Land means to them.

Check it out!

Cheers, Jade

Jade, This discussion is getting more interesting and making me think wider. In Cameroon, rural areas and their people are a world of their own. Picture a place where people move on foot paths because having good roads and cars is far fetched. In the night, the whole place is dark because of no electricity.

Households use kerosene lamps and fire for lighting their homes. Food comes mainly from the farm and if any purchases are to be made, they are done once in a while and in far off towns. They are at times rescued by local store operators with few items on their shelves like candles, kerosene, matches, kola nuts, palm oil, salt and a few other necessities. Dwellers in rural settings carry out a lot of farming, palm wine tapping and fishing for survival. Almost everybody no matter the distance separating them could know their neighbors by name and they share food and farmland. One primary school and one health center with inadequate staff could serve so many of these people who trek long distances.

That is just a vivid picture of life in rural settings in some parts of Cameroon. It is also interesting to know that there are varying degrees of a place being rural or remote. some are better than others but in a nutshell these are places with no electricity, roads,and all the goodies found in towns and cities. These rural areas are inhabited by both the educated and uneducated. With the high rate of unemployment some youths return to fully embrace rural life. Some primary school and health center staff equally reside in these areas. This is actually where my argument lies. Are all rural women illiterate farmers?

Jade, be sure to read from me about LAND! my regards Edith


Dear Edith you have raised a thought provoking point. It is important to think because perception matters a lot. They really contribute a lot in a problem which can be postive or negative.

Regards Nusrat

With best wishes,

Nusrat Ara 


Hello Nusrat, I talked to another person yesterday and his answer was that it is a place that can be described as rural not a person. He went on that so long as somebody is permanently based in the rural area, that person can be called a rural woman or man. However i would love to hear from you about who a rural woman is. regards Edith.


I also want to know the answer from someone else.I am a girl grown up in a countryside, people who thinks themselves somehow educated used to call an innocent woman a "rural women" with a sense of domination and hatred..But what that realy mean and why they are saying so, a woman not attending schools and living in a countryside is a rural woman?? This is a bothering word for a girl or woman living in a village as she walks on her awn way without disturbing others.. HOpe to hear from u Thank you

Hi Zeal.anji I raised this debate because of the degrading and demeaning way with which people used the expression 'rural woman'. I thought the expression was originally intended to describe the place and not the person. What obtains here is the tendency for the rich and educated to call the less privileged 'rural' or 'local'. Deep in their minds what they mean is that such people are primitive. Is it the place or person that is rural?