The United Nations (UN) International Day of Rural Women is annually observed across the globe on 15 October to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security, and eradicating rural poverty.
- The theme of International Day of Rural Women 2023 is “Rural Women, Women with Rights”.
i.The International Day of Rural Women was created in 1995 by Civil society organizations at the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
ii.On 18 December 2007, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/62/136 and declared the 15th of October of every year as the International Day of Rural Women.
iii.The first-ever International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008.
Contribution of Rural Women to Development:
i.Women constitute a substantial portion of the agricultural labour force, actively participating in both formal and informal agricultural activities in rural areas.
ii.Women play a pivotal role in strengthening agricultural production, ensuring food security and nutrition, managing land and natural resources, and fostering the development of climate-resilient practices.
iii.Alongside their agricultural contributions, women perform the primary responsibility for unpaid care and domestic tasks within families and households, often without financial recognition.
i.According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN, Women make up 43% of the global agricultural labour force, yet they face significant discrimination.
- On average, women earn 18.4% less than men in wage employment in agriculture.
- Giving women the same opportunities as men could raise agricultural production by 2.5 to 4% in the poorest regions and the number of malnourished people could be reduced by 12 to 17%.
ii.The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that reducing the gap in labour force participation rates between men and women by 25% by the year 2025 could raise global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 3.9%, or USD 5.8 trillion.
iii.According to the UN-Women’s Policy paper, Global Gendered Impacts of the Ukraine-crisis of 2022:
- The current disruption to the food and energy markets has only intensified gender disparities, causing rates of food insecurity, malnutrition, and energy poverty.
i.To commemorate the International Day of Rural Women, from 1-17 October 2023, the “17 Days of Activism for the Empowerment of Rural Women Leaders and their Communities” is scheduled to take place.
- This campaign, initiated by the FAO, aims to foster the empowerment and autonomy of women in rural areas through collaborative efforts and knowledge dissemination.
ii.On 17 October 2023, FAO Asia-Pacific organised an event “entitled “Breaking the barriers: Gender equality, water, financial inclusion in agrifood systems in Asia and the Pacific.” to discuss gender equality, water and financial inclusion in agrifood systems in Asia-Pacific.
iii.On 10 October 2023, FAO Latin America organised a seminar at FAO Santiago de Chile, Chile to provide a regional overview of the advances and challenges that promote or obstruct the economic empowerment of rural women in all their diversity among others.