How Can Rural Women Help End World Hunger And Poverty?

“The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have gender equality and women’s empowerment at their core, and include a target to “double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women”. Indeed, rural women are critical to the success of almost all of the 17 SDGs.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Happy International Day of Rural Women!

“Rural women, the majority of whom depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods, make up over a quarter of the total world population. In developing countries, rural women represent approximately 43 percent of the agricultural labour force, and produce, process and prepare much of the food available, thereby giving them primary responsibility for food security.

Bearing in mind that 76 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, ensuring rural women’s access to productive agricultural resources contributes to decreasing world hunger and poverty, and make rural women critical for the success of the new Sustainable Development agenda for 2030.

International Day of Rural Women was established by the General Assembly, which recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” SOURCE: UN

STATISTICS FROM THE UN WOMEN:

  • Rural women spend more time than urban women and men in domestic and household work. A study of the correlation between time and water poverty in 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa estimated that women spend at least 16 million hours a day collecting drinking water; men spend 6 million hours; and children, 4 million hours [1].
  • Women farmers control less land than do men, and also have limited access to inputs, seeds, credits, and extension services. Less than 20 per cent of landholders are women. Gender differences in access to land and credit affect the relative ability of female and male farmers and entrepreneurs to invest, operate to scale, and benefit from new economic opportunities [2].
  • Maternal deaths disproportionately affect rural women. In the least developed countries, a rural woman is 38 per cent less likely than an urban women to give birth with the assistance of a skilled health professional [3].
  • Key findings from a study by UN Women, the World Bank, and the Poverty and Environment Initiative indicate that the gender gap in agricultural productivity ranges from 4-40 per cent depending on the country and the food or cash crop in question, and could cost up to USD 100 million in Malawi, USD 65 million in Uganda, and USD 106 million in the United Republic of Tanzania.

How can we better engage rural women in fostering rural development, ending world hunger and poverty?

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