The world’s sustainable future cannot be achieved without the involvement of rural women and girls.
The very first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. The day is commemorated annually on the 15th of October.
This year’s theme is “Rural women and girls building climate resilience.” The day was established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007.
What is the purpose of International Day of Rural Women
The day serves as a reminder that the world’s sustainable future cannot be achieved without the involvement of rural women and girls.
The United Nations (UN) noted that the day was made 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.”
How they contribute in their communities
According to the South African government: “Rural women play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries. In most parts of the developing world they 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.”
According to the UN Women website, globally, one in three employed women work in the agriculture sector. The site also revealed: “Women also collect biomass fuels, manually process foodstuffs, and pump water; eighty percent of households without piped water rely on women and girls for water collection.”
Challenges that they face
Even though rural women contribute so much to their communities, they still find themselves lagging behind rural men and urban women. The UN revealed that they were more likely to die during climate-related disasters.
These women also face more constraints when it comes to accessing natural resources like land and water. Climate change also increases inequalities, which could lead them to be left further behind.
How women can assist with climate change
The most effective way to achieve progress on the threats posed by climate change is by addressing gender inequality. Empowered women respond better to climate change.
They are more likely to adopt low-carbon technologies, spread knowledge about climate change, and push for action. UN Women noted: “Adopting gender-responsive climate policy and programmes and promoting women’s leadership in climate action are thus among the key pieces in reducing the harmful effects of global warming.”
UN Women’s focus on improving rural women’s situations
This key component has been recognised in the 2019 Secretary General report on “Improving the situation of women and girls in rural areas.” The focus has been made on climate, and UN Women is implementing multiple programmes to empower women in the face of global warming.
The UN Women’s activities on sustainable development involves promoting women’s empowerment through a climate resilient agriculture. The organisation has joined with other groups in this regard.
UN Women stated: “On International Rural Women’s Day, UN Women, along with the UN community, is drawing attention to the implementation of commitments to gender equality by climate change actors, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Gender Action Plan, and calling for actions to support the capacities of rural women and girls to respond to climate change through agricultural production, food security, and natural resources management.”