Celebrate International Womans DayMarch 8, 2012 by Angela Vincent
Rural women constitute one-fourth of the world’s population. They are leaders, decision-makers, producers, workers, entrepreneurs and service providers. Their contributions are vital to the well-being of families and communities, and of local and national economies.
Yet rural women’s rights, contributions and priorities have been largely overlooked. Rural women have also been hard hit by the economic and financial crisis, volatile food prices and export-driven agriculture. They need to be fully engaged in efforts to shape a response to these inter-connected crises and in decision-making at all levels.
Now Is the Time to Act
Rural women are key agents of change. Their leadership and participation are needed to shape responses to development challenges and recent crises.
Women are central to the development of rural areas: they account for a great proportion of the agricultural labour force, produce the majority of food grown, especially in subsistence farming, and perform most of the unpaid care work in rural areas. It is critical that their contributions be recognized and that their voices be heard in decision-making processes at all levels of governments, and within rural organizations.
Here are a few photos from our Communications Director, Micah Albert, from over the last 5 years.
70 percent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor live in rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly one-third of these, while South Asia is now home to about half.
In 2010, 925 million people were chronically hungry, of whom 60 percent were women.
Agriculture provides a livelihood for 86 percent of rural women and men, and employment for about 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and landless workers, 43 percent of whom are women.
An estimated two-thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers worldwide are women.
The burden of unpaid care work is substantial. Globally there are 884 million people without safe drinking water, 1.6 billion people without reliable sources of energy, 1 billion people who lack access to roads, 2.6 billion people without satisfactory sanitation facilities, and 2.7 billion people who rely on open fires and traditional cooking stoves. Rural women carry most of the unpaid work burden due to lack of infrastructure and services.
In rural areas of the developing world, excluding China, 45 percent of women aged 20–24 were married or in union before the age of 18, compared to 22 percent of urban women.