Agriculture Special Report

Empowering women to end hunger and poverty

This year on International Day of Rural Women celebrated annually on 15 October to strengthening rural women’s sustainable livelihoods and wellbeing across the World.

This year, the theme of the day is “Rural women cultivating good food for all”.

According to the United Nations, on an average, women make up more than 40 per cent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, ranging from 20 per cent in Latin America to 50 per cent or more in parts of Africa and Asia. Despite the same, women face challenges when it comes to land ownership, equal pay, participation in decision-making entities, and access to resources, credit and market for their farms to flourish.

International Day of Rural Women stresses the importance of equal opportunities for women and girls in rural areas. 

The Day also intends to eradicate discrimination faced by women in rural areas. 

While gender equality and empowerment are key issues involved with women and their rights, it is important to fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition faced by women in rural areas.

Rural Women, key for a world free from hunger and poverty

According to United Nations, Rural women play a crucial role in agriculture, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and rural enterprises.

Rural women are labouring under acutely disadvantageous conditions, in many places without clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene, energy supply or healthcare services.

The COVID-19 pandemic also heightened the vulnerability of rural women’s rights to land and resources.

Discriminatory gender norms and practices impede women’s exercise of land and property rights in most countries. Since women’s land rights are often dependent on their husbands, COVID-19 widows risk disinheritance.

Gender-responsive investments to expand basic infrastructure, healthcare and care services in rural areas have never been more critical.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women is not only the right thing to do but is a critical ingredient in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

As women are concentrated in both unpaid care and household work and their role in subsistence farming is often unremunerated, their contribution to the rural economy is widely underestimated.

This International Day of Rural Women is a key moment to galvanize action by all stakeholders to support rural women and girls to not only rebuild their lives after COVID-19 but increase their resilience to be better prepared to face future crises.

The Immerse Contribution of Rural Women to National Development

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing, has been increasingly recognized.

Most Women across the world are in the agriculture sector, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas.

They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

However, structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and health care.

Women play important roles in the rural economy as farmers, wage earners and entrepreneurs. They also take responsibility for the well-being of the members of their families, including food provision and care for children and the elderly.

International Organization supporting emancipation of women globally

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Decent Work Agenda offers an integrated framework for rural women’s empowerment, underpinned by international labour standards, social dialogue and the recognition that rural women play a key role in climate action.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recognizes the potential of rural women and men in achieving food security and improving nutrition and is committed to working with partners and strengthening its efforts to eliminate the gender inequalities that undermine the performance of the agriculture sector.

Reporting by Adeniyi Bakare