International Day of Rural Women – 15 October, 2018

International Day of Rural Women – 15 October, 2018

Today marks the UN’s International Day of Rural Women, a day first observed in 2008 to recognize the role of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty. According to the UN, this year’s theme, “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”, places empowerment of rural women at the heart of fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The idea of honouring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. It was suggested that October 15 be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” which is the eve of World Food Day, to highlight rural women’s role in food production and food security.

Even before it was observed by the UN, “World Rural Women’s Day” was celebrated around the world for more than a decade. The UN now officially recognizes the observance and aligns many of its campaigns for the day with their Sustainable Development Goals.

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of households, communities, and the environment is seen through their substantial contributions to the agricultural workforce, domestic work, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Even with everything they contribute to the community, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. According to the UN, women farmers may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts, but are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets and high-value agrifood chains and obtain lower prices for their crops.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres spoke of the importance of this global observance:

"The empowerment of rural women and girls is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for all on a healthy planet."

The AIDF Global Summit will return to Washington D.C, in 2019. 

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Photo credit: Credit: UN Women/Nicky Kuautonga

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