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International Women's Day dedicated to rural women

International Women's Day dedicated to rural women

Posted: Wednesday, 7 March 2012, New York | Author: iSeek/Elodie Sabau  

Click here to see the UN System Observances for Internationa Women's Day 2012"Empower Rural Women - End Hunger and Poverty" is the theme of this year's International Women's Day  , celebrated today at UNHQ but recognized internationally on 8 March.

Rural women play a crucial role in their households and communities.  They enhance agricultural and rural development, improve food security and help reduce poverty levels in their communities.  And according to UN-Women, rural women represent 43 percent of agricultural workers worldwide, and up to 70 percent of the agricultural workforce in some countries.

Despite their number and crucial contribution, rural women face many challenges including the lack of access to healthcare and education, gender inequality and limited access to credit.

"Rural women and girls — to whom this year's International Women's Day is devoted — make up one quarter of the global population, yet routinely figure at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator, from income and education to health to participation in decision-making", said Secretary-General BAN- Ki-moon in his message   for the day.  

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that if women were given the same access to productive resources, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30 percent.  As a consequence, 100-150 million people would be lifted out of hunger.       

History of International Women’s Day

The launch of International Women's Day at the United Nations dates back 35 years. Although the day has been celebrated informally for a century, it was during International Women's Year in 1975 that the International Community decided to officially recognize 8 March as International Women's Day.

Two years later, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a UN Day for Women's Rights and International Peace, to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

In its resolution, the General Assembly insisted on two main objectives.  First, "to recognize the fact that securing peace and social progress and the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms require the active participation, equality and development of women".  Second, "to acknowledge the contribution of women to the strengthening of international peace and security".

Since then, every year, the world celebrates this important day by taking stock of progress made and addressing necessary steps to be taken for the advancement of women worldwide.   

Commission on the Status of Women 

This year, International Women's Day falls during the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women   (CSW), taking place in New York from 27 February to 9 March. The priority theme of this year's session is also the empowerment of rural women to end hunger and poverty.