International Day of Rural women

  • 16 October 2020
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This theme aims to shine a spotlight on the burdens that women in rural communities faced and overcame as the Covid-19 pandemic ran amok across the world. They worked hard to ensure the continued sustainability of livelihoods and wellbeing in their communities.

Rural women play a crucial role in agriculture, food security and nutrition. They take on different functions in the agricultural value chain as farmers, farmworkers, informal traders, and decision-makers in agriculture organisations.  Women also take responsibility for their family's wellbeing and the responsibility of food provision and care for children and the elderly sitting squarely on their shoulders.

United Nations Women  says that even with all their proven worth and contribution, rural women are still labouring under acutely disadvantageous conditions. With insufficient infrastructure and services in rural areas stretched to the limit, the invaluable care and productive work of women during the pandemic continued, in many places without clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene, energy supply or healthcare services.

The pandemic has also exposed the vulnerability of rural women’s rights to land and resources. Since women’s land rights are often dependent on their husbands, Covid-19 widows will face the risk of disinheritance. Women’s land occupancy security is also threatened as unemployed migrants return to rural communities, increasing pressure on land and resources and intensifying gender gaps in agriculture and food security.

Promoting and ensuring gender equality and empowering rural women through decent work and productive employment, not only contributes to inclusive and sustainable economic growth but also enhances the effectiveness of poverty reduction and food security initiatives.

This International Day of Rural Women should serve as a call to action for all influential stakeholders to support rural women to not only rebuild their lives post Covid-19 but increase their resilience to be better prepared to face future crises.