Every year, this officially recognised UN day provides rural women the recognition they deserve.
International Day of Rural Women was established during the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995 and an educational campaign has been organised annually since 1997 by the Women's World Summit Foundation WWSF. The day was officially first observed in 2008 and recognises “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”
In less economically developed countries, gender inequality dictates many women to play a vital role in the rural economy. Women are often involved in essential activities such as; crop production, livestock care, providing food and water for their families and many more vital tasks that often go unnoticed. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in full support of all the day represents,” Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future.”
Rural women critical for the success of the new Sustainable Development agenda for 2030: 'The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have gender equality and women’s empowerment at their core, and include a target to “double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women. Indeed, rural women are critical to the success of almost all of the 17 SDGs,' says Ban Ki-moon.
The Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) is a UN recognised consultant and represents almost 9million of these women worldwide. This year marks the international year of soils, Sharon Hatten, UN Committee Chair says, “The promotion of sustainable soil and land management is central to ensuring a productive food system, improved rural livelihoods and a healthy environment.” This is hugely significant for the majority of rural women who depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods. In developing countries, rural women represent approximately 43% of the agricultural labour force.”
Figures from the Women's World Summit Foundation highlight the significance of rural women: “Rural women comprise more than one quarter of the total world’s population. 500 million women live below the poverty line in rural areas. Women produce 60-80% of basic foodstuffs in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Women perform over 50% of the labour involved in intensive rice cultivation in Asia. Women perform 30% of the agricultural work in industrialised countries. Women head 60% of households in some regions of Africa. Women meet 90% of household water and fuel needs in Africa. Women process 100% of basic household foodstuffs in Africa.'
The UN has a special global organisation for females; UN Women is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.