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VIEWPOINT Rural electrification: Liberator of women BY A N T H O N Y J. A H E R N Unlike those who labored in the 1930s to form electric cooperatives in order to provide power for much of rural America, I did not grow up without electricity. However, I have seen firsthand what life without electricity is like from my many personal trips to Honduras as a volunteer on small-scale work projects. When you live in a rural village in a developing country along with the native people you are trying to help, it is hard not to notice the demanding physical labor needed daily to subsist without the aid of electricity. Early in the morning, the men head out to work the fields or to other types of employment. The women and girls tend to the cooking and other needs of the household. Common sights include: A young girl balancing a 5-gallon water bucket, filled to the brim, and hauling it uphill on a rock-strewn path; washing clothes with a scrub board or on rocks in a stream; tending a wood-burning fire for cooking; and ironing with flatirons. There is no refrigeration to keep food fresh, no vacuum cleaners, no fans for cooling to provide some relief from the sweltering heat and no light to come on with the flick of a switch. For women, daily household life in the rural areas of many developing nations is one of drudgery and outright toil. It was this way too for women in rural America until the mid-1930s when electric cooperatives began to be created. Rural electrification allowed farm families to transform from subsistence existence to one of productiveness. Muscle power and horse or mule power was aided and often replaced by the marvel of tools, devices and appliances powered by electricity. But who could have imagined what a life-changer rural electrification would be for women? In short, rural electrification was a significant liberator of mothers and daughters from the physical drudgery of maintaining a household while helping on the farm. As the old saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” But perhaps rural electrification lifted the women’s boat a little higher. 2 COUNTRY LIVING • MARCH 2013 Volume 55, No. 6 March 2013 Contact us: Anthony Ahern Steve Oden Rich Warren John Howley Chris Hall Bernice Mattison Nikki Heath Adam Specht Margie Wuebker Chip Gross Sandy Woolard Tim Dickes President & CEO Dir. of Comm. Managing Editor Comm. Manager Art & Prod. Manager Publications Coord. Graphic Artist Comm. Specialist Food Editor Outdoors Editor Advertising Advertising COUNTRY LIVING (ISSN 0747-0592) is the official publication of Ohio Rural Electric Co- operatives, Inc. With a paid circulation of 294,786, it is the monthly communication link between the rural elec tric cooperatives in Ohio and West Virginia and their members. Subscription price: $4.30 to $6.50 per year to co-op members; $12 per year to nonmem- bers. Nothing in this publication may be re- produced in any manner without specific written permission from Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. All rights reserved. lliance for Audited Media Member National advertising representatives: NATIONAL COUNTRY MARKET, based at 611 S. Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704 1-800-NCM-1181 The fact that a product is advertised in Country Living should not be taken as an endorsement. If you find an ad- vertisement misleading or a product unsatisfactory, please notify us or the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Section, 30 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215, or call 1-800-282-0515. Cooperative members — Please report any change of address to your local electric cooperative. Periodicals postage paid at Columbus, OH and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to editorial and advertising offices at: 6677 Busch Boulevard Columbus, OH 43229-1101 Telephone — 614-846-5757 Serving on the Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc., Board of Trustees are George Brake, chairman; Dennis W. Schindler, vice A chairman; Jack Schmidt, secretary/treasurer; Charles Grimes, Paul Berridge, Thomas McQuiston, Robert McCort, Donald McCracken, Jack L. Kitchel, Daniel McNaull, Robert E. Wise, Shirley J. Stutz, David Corbin, Barry Jolliff, Warren Taylor, James R. McConnell, Eu- gene Royer, Mitch Headley, John Saxton, Edward P. Sanders, Harold E. Cooper, Larry Weirich, Jeff Wilson and David P. Miller. Anthony J. Ahern, president; Kurt Helfrich, counsel.