In recognition of the monumental role of rural women in development and transformational economic, social and environmental changes, the 15th of October was designated as International Day of Rural Women by the UN General Assembly, in accordance with its resolution 62/136 of the 18th of December 2007. Within that framework, the UN stressed on the critical role of rural women, including indigenous women, in improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.
Women represent a large proportion of the agricultural labor force, contributing immensely to agricultural production, food security and land management, as well as to building climate resilience. However, despite this fact, women remain subjected to discrimination in regards to land ownership, access to resources and participation in decision making bodies, subsequently exposing rural women and girls to multidimensional poverty.
Therefore, the celebration of International Day of Rural Women presents an opportunity to work towards dismantling structural inequalities and discriminatory practices and norms that hinder women’s active participation in rural areas, as well as ensuring equal access to resources and necessary public services including education and health care.
The unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing global food insecurity and environmental crisis. According to a recent UN report (2020), 23.7 billion people did not have access to adequate food, pushing approximately 3.2 billion people into hunger.
As rural women and girls are consistently disproportionately affected by food insecurity, the theme of this year puts a spotlight on “Rural Women Cultivating Good For All.”
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights recognizes the catalytic impact of rural women in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and stresses on the importance of supporting and encouraging the participation of rural women in policies and programmes affecting their lives. Therefore, the Institute urges governments to recognize and address the needs of rural women and subsequently prioritize improving their situation in national development plans and programs.
Furthermore, the Institute appeals to governments to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms of rural women are protected, including land ownership and equal access to credit.