Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty.
This is the message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the International Day of Rural Women which is celebrated on October 15th each year.
Rural women produce much of the world’s food, care for the environment and help reduce the risk of disaster in their communities. Yet they continue to face disadvantages and discrimination that prevent them from realizing their potential. For too many rural women, their daily reality is one in which they do not own the land they farm, are denied the financial services that could lift them out of poverty, and live without the guarantee of basic nutrition, health services and amenities such as clean water and sanitation. Unpaid care work imposes a heavy burden and prevents their access to decent wage employment.
Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future. This is why the United Nations recently launched a programme to empower rural women and enhance food security. The joint programme of the three Rome-based food and agricultural organizations and UN Women will work with rural women to remove the barriers they face, and to boost their skills as producers, leaders and entrepreneurs
When food and nutrition security are improved, rural women have more opportunities to find decent work and provide for the education and health of their children. With equal access to land, credit and productive resources, rural women can increase their productivity and sell their goods. As equal members of society, rural women can raise their voices as decision-makers and propel sustainable development.
The world has increasingly recognized the vital role that women play in building peace, justice and democracy. As we approach the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, it is time to invest more in rural women, protect their rights, and improve their status. On this International Day, I call on all partners to support rural women, listen to their voices and ideas, and ensure that policies respond to their needs and demands. Let us do everything we can to enable them to reach their potential for the benefit of all.
The day day recognises the contribution of women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating poverty.
In line with this, seven Rural Women NZ members have just returned from an enriching and rewarding experience connecting with village women near the Indian city of Chennai.
The group was attending the triennial world conference of the Associated Countrywomen of the World (ACWW), an organisation with a worldwide membership of over a million that has had consultative status at the United Nations since 1949.
But it was meeting the rural women of India that had most impact, Rural Women NZ national president, Liz Evans, said.
“The women, many of whom worked in the rice paddies, were so hospitable and so keen to tell us about their everyday lives, their aspirations and family ambitions. None of them had many financial resources, but, through project based aid organisations like ACWW, they were able to demonstrate their successes – especially around establishing small businesses.”
At the conference, which was attended by about 500 women from around the world, Rural Women NZ’s resolution calling for “well trained and resourced quality maternity services and best outcomes for mother and baby, giving particular regard to the special needs and isolation of rural women” was adopted unanimously.
Other adopted resolutions included a call to ban the use of the “hazardous” chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used in many plastic products; the need for governments to record the births of all children to ensure they are recognised as citizens, and a call to stop the practice of female genital mutilation, female circumcision and cutting, which endangers the health and lives of young girls.
Members are expected to take these adopted resolutions back to their home countries and advocate for their governments to action them.
‘Grow locally, benefit globally’ was the theme of the women in agriculture workshop, where some speakers expressed concern at the large increase in heart disease, diabetes and obesity as a result of changing diets. What to do with the growing volumes of food waste was also a hot topic.
ACWW has been leading on water issues for many years, funding and supporting water storage and purifying projects in many countries.
Recognising the importance of education to help raise families out of poverty, Rural Women NZ members gave $1000 worth of books to local Indian school children, with funds raised earlier in the year at our ‘Women Walk the World’ events. . .