As the world celebrates International Day of Rural Women, there are few better examples of what a rural woman can achieve than Dubbo’s Ruth Shanks.
Ms Shanks has just been re-elected as the world president of the Associated Country Women of the World, an organisation that represents almost 10 million rural women across the world.
The ACWW champions the cause of women all across the planet, especially those who live in rural areas and maybe have disadvantages to overcome.
Ms Shanks said it was an important day and helped to push the cause of those who had to overcome significant disadvantages.
Her first term saw her travel to seven of the nine ACWW areas around the world, and the only reason she wasn’t able to visit the remaining two was because of government warnings about travelling to those locations.
In the next three years, Ms Shanks said she hoped to work more closely with the United Nations and continue to provide opportunities for rural women in all circumstances.
“The United Nations has been in existence for 70 years and for 68 years the ACWW has had a consultancy status with them,” she said.
“I hope in this term we can have even more interaction with the UN and take advantage of our relationship.”
One of the biggest achievements of the ACWW was the money that it provided to help members complete projects. Organisations could approach with a project and needed to show what the benefit would be.
If they were successful the ACWW would also send someone to oversee the project.
“There is no other organisation devoted to physically assisting rural women. That’s our niche market. Other organisations will help women in general but there needs to be that “rural” put into all of this,” Ms Shanks said.
She said there had been so many worthwhile causes in her time as president but said one in Papua New Guinea stood out.
“The member group received funding which they loaned out to members for items they needed. Those members then repaid the money and some of it was put into savings and at the end, the members had savings which showed them what they could do,” she said.
Ms Shanks was the state president of the NSW CWA between 2001 and 2004 and is still involved in the organisation as a member.
Her commitments with the ACWW have made it harder for Ms Shanks to be heavily involved in events at a local level but said both organisations have an important role to play.
She encouraged women to consider joining the ACWW, and said people could visit the website www.acww.org.uk for more information.