UN: 'Rural women are the backbone of sustainable livelihoods' - UN chief

New York, US (PANA) - Marking the International Day of Rural Women, the UN on Thursday
affirmed the role of women as significant and crucial for the progress of rural households,
local and national economies.

"They are farmers and farm workers, horticulturists and market sellers, business women
and community leaders. Rural women are the backbone of sustainable livelihoods and
provide food security for their families and communities," UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon said in his message marking the occasion.

Ban noted that the International Day falls just after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development last month, and urged the global leaders to seize the
opportunity offered by the new framework to transform rural women’s lives.

"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 the 17 SDGs.

"We must build resilient social protection systems, labour and product markets,
governance institutions, and civil society organizations so that rural women can both
contribute to and benefit from sustainable development," the UN chief stated.

"The International Day of Rural Women is an opportune moment to amplify rural
women’s voices and experiences from around the globe. Let us act on our
commitment to creating opportunities for rural women across every relevant goal
and thereby advance progress for all," Ban added.

Also in a message, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
reaffirmed that rural women play a key role in underpinning sustainable development
and further stressed that following the framework of Agenda 2030 will help in
accelerating progress for rural women.

She said: "As we launch Agenda 2030 globally and locally, we must learn from the
lessons of implementing the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs). We have an unparalleled opportunity and commitment
to end poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, and guarantee
sustainable livelihoods by investing in rural women and climate-resilient agriculture."

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, however, said that according to MDG indicators, rural women
suffer disproportionately from poverty, and face multiple forms of discrimination,
violence and insecurity as compared to rural men and urban men and women.

She observed that at the Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and
Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action, the top political leaders of
Angola, Colombia, Jordan, Paraguay, Senegal and Viet Nam highlighted
intersecting forms of discrimination for girls and women living in poverty in
rural areas.

"They include economic and financial barriers to girls’ education such as the
elimination of school fees and provision of stipends, scholarships and
non-financial support, particularly in rural and remote areas.

"Legal reforms are needed to guarantee women’s equal right to property and
to realize sexual and reproductive health and rights," she noted.

The UN official urged UN member states to address these barriers to
rural women’s progress with measures that are compliant with the Agenda

She stressed on increasing access to healthcare, provision of free or
subsidized essential drugs and commodities, access to family planning
measures and upgrading their skills through agricultural extension services.

Highlighting the role women can play in addressing climate change activities,
Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka reported that in Bangladesh, targeted steps are being
taken with 19,000 women, to prepare for its known vulnerability to climate

She said: "Women’s participation in local institutions for governing natural
resources is critical for sustainable land, forest and water management, as
well as for building resilience and planning for climate change and adaptation

"Addressing the adverse effects of climate change through climate-resilient
agriculture strategies and natural resource management is increasingly
important for securing rural women’s rights, empowerment, and well-being.

"Although women constitute 43 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, many of them are without ownership of the lands they work in and neither do they have an authoritative voice in local governments."

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that change could come if the global leaders took
every opportunity to ensure that "rural women do not lag behind, but rather lead
the way."
-0-   PANA   AA/AR  15Oct2015

15 october 2015 17:05:40

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