Rural women play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries. The International Day of Rural Women directs attention to both the contribution that women make in rural areas, and the many challenges that they face. In most parts of the developing world women participate in crop production and livestock care, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and engage in off-farm activities to diversify their families’ livelihoods. In addition, they carry out vital functions in caring for children, older persons and the sick.
The idea of honouring rural women with a special day was put forward by international NGOs at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. It was suggested that 15 October be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” on the eve of World Food Day, in order to highlight the role played by rural women in food production and food security.
This international day was finally established by the General Assembly on 18 December 2007, recognizing “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”
“World Rural Women’s Day” has been celebrated, primarily by civil society, across the world for over a decade. The first International Day of Rural Women was observed in New York on 15 October 2008.
In order to contribute to a fuller understanding of the issue, UN Women in collaboration with other UN organizations convened an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) ‘Enabling rural women's economic empowerment: institutions, opportunities and participation' from 20-23 September 2011 in Accra, Ghana. The EGM explored a wide range of strategies that could enhance the economic empowerment of rural women.
Edited: G. Cornwell
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