The International Day of Rural Women was observed globally on October 15, 2018, with the theme, “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”. The theme places empowerment of rural women at the heart of fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and healthcare, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men.
The impacts of climate change, including access to productive and natural resources, amplify the existing gender inequalities in rural areas. The climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict and climate-related natural disasters.
Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change. The structural barriers and discriminatory social norms constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities.
The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008. The day was established by the UN General Assembly through a resolution on December 18, 2007. The day aims to recognize the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.