08.03.2018 |

UN Women: Action is needed to empower rural women

Rural women
Rural women ensure food security for their communities (Photo: CC0)

On almost every measure of development, rural women fare worse than rural men or urban women. They are disproportionately affected by poverty and unequal access to land and natural resources, infrastructure and services, and decent work and social protection, according to UN Women, the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2018, UN Women draws attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population and majority of the 43 per cent of women in the global agricultural labour force. Under this year’s theme “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”, they put a spotlight on the tireless work of activists who are fighting relentlessly for women’s rights worldwide.

UN Women highligts that rural women till the lands and plant seeds to feed nations, ensure food security for their communities and build climate resilience. Yet, compared to men, women and girls are still more severely affected by poverty and hunger. Their access to education, land and natural resources, water, livestock and machinery is often restricted due to deep seated gender inequalities and discrimination. For instance, less than 20 per cent of landholders worldwide are women, and while the global pay gap between men and women stands at 23 per cent, in rural areas, it can be as high as 40 per cent. Rural women lack infrastructure and services, decent work and social protection, and are left more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

UN Women stresses that decisive action is needed if we want to make the promise of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality. Goal 2 aims at ending all forms of malnutrition and addressing the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women as well as doubling the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women by 2030. Goal 5 explicitly wants to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls everywhere. However, much more needs to be done in rural areas to ensure an adequate standard of living, a life free of violence and harmful practices for rural women, as well as their access to land and productive assets, food security and nutrition, decent work, education and health. But there is also good news: UN Women says that rural women and their organizations already represent an enormous potential, and they are on the move to claim their rights and improve their livelihoods and wellbeing. They are using innovative agricultural methods, setting up successful businesses and acquiring new skills, pursuing their legal entitlements and running for office. (ab)

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Donors of globalagriculture Bread for all biovision Bread for the World Misereor Heidehof Stiftung Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz Rapunzel
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