SALALAH, FEB 11
Nestled amidst the verdant mountains and fertile plains of Dhofar Governorate lies Taqah, a town where the whispers of change are beginning to ripple through the lives of its rural women. The recently launched Rural Women's Empowerment Programme, a collaborative effort between the Governor’s office in Taqah and various regional institutions, aims to be a turning point, unlocking economic opportunities and fostering financial independence for this often-marginalised segment of the population.
For decades, rural Omani women have grappled with limited employment opportunities, restricted access to resources, and societal constraints. This programme, targeting 130 participants across three training centres, seeks to address these challenges head-on. Equipping women with practical skills in cheesemaking, jam & pickle production, and other agricultural ventures, empowers them to launch income-generating businesses, paving the path towards financial self-sufficiency.
"This programme is a beacon of hope," says Maryam bint Ahmed Salim, a participant with dreams of starting her own cheesemaking business. "The training has given me the confidence and knowledge I need to turn my passion into a livelihood, not just for myself, but for my family as well."
Beyond individual empowerment, the program also aims to revitalise the local economy by promoting and listing locally produced goods in established markets. This not only creates a sustainable market for participants' products but also contributes to the preservation of traditional food-making practices and the cultural heritage of the region.
However, the road to sustainable success is not without its challenges. Access to financing, navigating market competition, and overcoming cultural barriers remain hurdles that need to be addressed. Experts like Ahmed Suhail al Maashani, an agricultural economist, emphasise the need for comprehensive support systems, including mentorship, microloans, and marketing assistance, to ensure the program's long-term impact.
Noor bint Mohammed al Awaid, working for the governor office in Taqah, expressed confidence in the programme's potential, stating: “This meticulously designed initiative equips women with the essential skills and knowledge they need to thrive. We are confident that this programme will make a significant contribution to the economic development of Taqah and empower rural women, paving the way for a brighter future for all. "
The programme's focus on youth engagement is another commendable aspect. Encouraging young people to participate in agriculture and related fields, fosters intergenerational collaboration and ensures the programme's sustainability beyond the current cycle. This creates a ripple effect, empowering not just the participants but also their families and communities, ultimately contributing to broader rural development goals.
The Rural Women's Empowerment Programme in Taqah stands as a testament to the immense potential that lies within rural communities when women are empowered and equipped with the necessary skills and resources. While challenges remain, the program's holistic approach, collaborative spirit, and focus on sustainability offer a hopeful glimpse into a future where rural Omani women not only contribute to their well-being but also play a vital role in the economic and social development of their communities.