Empowerment of (Rural) Women is Crucial, Necessary and Relevant to All of Us

By Milana Dostanitch

The 62nd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (“CSW62”), the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality, is taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 12 through March 23, 2018. This session’s focus is: “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.” 

The issue of the empowerment of rural women is not something that most city dwellers often think about, however, it is crucial and relevant to all of us.  Rural women produce approximately 50% of the world’s food, compromise a quarter of the world’s population and provide 43% of the world’s agricultural labor force (in some countries this figure increases to 80%). However, despite playing such a key role in the world’s economy and sustenance, rural women are estimated to own less than 13% of land worldwide, receive less than 10% of available credit, and face a gender pay gap as high as 40% (while the global pay gap between men and women stands at 23%).

Rural women around the world are often one of the most vulnerable groups in many countries, facing high poverty levels, illiteracy, wage discrimination and disparity, lack of access to the legal system and land ownership, and barriers to entering the leadership roles of their societies, among many other issues.  Furthermore, rural women are often held to a different standard in their societies then their male counterparts and are expected to fulfill a “triple work burden” in productive, reproductive and social spheres which further limits their opportunities and development. This underappreciation of the role of rural women in agriculture is detrimental to the women themselves, their children, families and the societies at large.

When rural women are empowered and have access to equal resources, assets and economic opportunities, they are statistically shown to become a driving force against rural poverty. For example, rural women are shown to reinvest 90% of their income in their families, transferring their success into improved well-being for their children and families, thereby playing a significant role in the eradication of rural poverty. Empowerment of rural women and providing rural women access to equal pay, education, assets, services and opportunities, have been identified as effective approaches to combatting rural poverty and promoting long term socio-economic development.

The empowerment of this very important group, which comprises a quarter of the world’s population, affects all of us worldwide even if we don’t realize their direct impact every day.  If you are interested in learning more about the empowerment of rural women, on March 15, 2018, please attend “Legal Frameworks for the Empowerment of Rural Women: Case Studies from Across the Sustainable Development Goals,” featuring prominent voices for change and experts in the filed such as Dr. Irene Khan, Director-General, International Development Law Organization, and Yasmin Batliwala, JP, Chief Executive, Advocates for International Development, among others equally distinguished agents for change. The event is free and is also accessible online.  Please see details below.

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EVENT: High Level Side-Event to the United Nations 62nd Commission on the Status of Women: Legal Frameworks for the Empowerment of Rural Women: Case Studies from Across the Sustainable Development Goals

WHEN: Thursday, March 15, 2018 | 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 W 44th Street, New York, NY 10036

You can register for this free event here: https://services.nycbar.org/iMIS/Events/Event_Display.aspx?WebsiteKey=f71e12f3-524e-4f8c-a5f7-0d16ce7b3314&EventKey=UN031518 and find other details in the attached PDF.

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Sources:

http://www.fao.org/3/a-at890e.pdf

http://www.wfo-oma.org/women-in-agriculture/articles/the-role-of-rural-women-in-agriculture.html

http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/csw

http://una-gp.org/clancyt/files/goals/goal5.pdf

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/2322UN%20Women%20Analysis%20on%20Women%20and%20SDGs.pdf

Artwork: © Veronica Smirnoff, Aliska, 2006, Egg Tempera On Wood, 90x70cm, http://www.riccardocrespi.com/index.php/en/artists/item/7-veronica-smirnoff

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