UN: UN spotlights rural women as 'force' to drive global progress

New York, US (PANA) - The UN says rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a message Wednesday to mark the International Day
of Rural Women, said: "Collectively, rural women are a force that can drive global progress."

"My mother has lived her whole life in the countryside. Although she did not receive much of a
formal education, I grew up appreciating her wisdom, resilience and intelligence," he said.

He noted that these qualities are shared by millions of rural women around the world, saying:
"This is why women living in the countryside are essential if we as an international community
are to move ahead on the post-2015 development goals and conclude a universal climate

"Because they often live on the front lines of poverty, natural disasters and other threats, rural
women have an enormous stake in the successes of our global campaigns,” the UN chief

Ban said that first, "we must address the discrimination and deprivation that rural women
continue to suffer", stressing that many lack access to land, markets, finance, social protection and services, and many also face grave security risks in the course of their life-saving tasks, such as collecting water or fuel.

"The majority of rural women depend on natural resources for their livelihoods. In developing
countries, they make up more than 40 per cent of the agricultural labour force. They produce,
process and prepare many of society’s meals, frequently taking primary responsibility for
household food security, health status and education opportunities.

"When we give rural women access to productive agricultural and natural resources, we
empower them. They, in turn, can contribute more to alleviating hunger and boosting the ability of their communities to cope with the effects of climate change, land degradation and
displacement. This benefits all people," he stated.

Also in a statement, UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that all over the world, gender inequality in land and other productive resources is intrinsically
related to women’s poverty and exclusion.

"Therefore, women’s rights to access, use, control, and ownership of land and other
productive resources are essential to reverse this.

"Sustainable solutions are not imposed from the outside. It is of utmost importance that rural women’s voices are heard in discussion, debates and policy making about their lives," Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

She also noted that every day rural women face complex obstacles blocking their rights to land, and these include discriminatory laws and practices governing inheritance and marital property, gender-biased land reform that privileges men over women, unequal access to land markets and discriminatory attitudes and beliefs.

She stated: "This situation persists, despite international and regional instruments and policies that recognize women’s rights to land and important developments in many countries to ensure and protect these rights."

The UN official also said that UN Women’s publication "Realizing Women’s Rights to Land and Other Productive Resources", published with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), gives a comprehensive picture of the critical issues affecting women’s rights to land and presents recommendations, good practices and success stories.

"It is critical that women’s rights to land and other productive resources be addressed in the post-2015 road map and embraced by the future sustainable development goals," Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said, emphasizing the need for adequate data that is gender-disaggregated to shape the evidence base for policy change.

She also added that UN Women is on the ground supporting several initiatives that promote the leadership of rural women in shaping laws and policies.

She said that UN Women has also partnered up with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for the "Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women" initiative, which engages with governments to develop and implement laws that promote equal rights.

First observed in 2008, the International Day of Rural Women was established by the UN General Assembly, recognizing "the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty."
-0- PANA AA/VAO 15Oct2014

15 october 2014 14:18:35

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