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International Day of Rural Women: 15 October

International Day of Rural Women: 15 October

Every year on 15th October, International Day of Rural Women is observed across the world. In 2017 the Day is being observed with the theme "Challenges and opportunities in climate-resilient agriculture for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls".

The Theme

A changing climate means that there is a shrinking window of opportunity to close gender gaps in agriculture. Climate change aggravates existing barriers, limiting women farmers’ access to long-term affordable finance and agricultural extension services, and increasing their unpaid care work burden as water and fuel become scarce. Women are powerful change agents to address climate change at scale. They are key actors in building community resilience and responding to climate-related disasters.

Therefore, it is a priority to foster women’s empowerment through climate-resilient agriculture approaches. Systematically addressing gender gaps in responding to climate change is one of the most effective mechanisms to build the climate resilience of households, communities and nations.

Contribution of Rural Women

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being has been increasingly recognized.

Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas.

Even so, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas.

Issues Faced by Rural Women

Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men.

Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women, and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change. In agriculture, climate change exacerbates the existing barriers to gender equality faced by women farmers.

Globally, women comprise 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce and play a critical role in supporting household and community food security.

However, due to discriminatory policy frameworks or inequitable social norms, women farmers have less access than men to secure land tenure, agricultural inputs, financing, water and energy, appropriate infrastructure, technologies, and extension services.

Background

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. This new international day, established by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

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