Today, we celebrate the International Day of Rural Women at the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP). The day of 15 October was established at the United Nations General Assembly of 18 December 2007, recognizes the critical role and contribution of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

On behalf of CIRDAP, I call for global attention on gender equality commitments and contribution of rural women to development.

Rural women are key agents for development. They play a catalytic role towards achievement of transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development[1]. Empowering women is essential, not only for the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities, but also for overall economic productivity, given women’s large presence in the agricultural work force worldwide.  Rural women and girls play a significant role in agriculture, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management and unpaid and domestic care work[2].

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are disproportionately affecting rural women’s productive, reproductive and income-generating capacities because it tends to reduce their economic opportunities and access to nutritious foods while at the same time increasing their workloads and escalating gender-based violence. Policy responses should consider women’s roles in agri-food systems and ensure that their multiple needs – as guardians of household food security, food producers, farm managers, processors, traders, wage workers and entrepreneurs – are adequately addressed. Rural women are key in producing, processing and trading food and agricultural products, and the COVID-19 pandemic tends to affect their agricultural activities more severely than those of men. It is crucial to adopt special measures to support rural women’s engagement in the agri-food value chains[3].

Across developing countries, the agricultural sector is an essential source of economic growth, employment, poverty reduction and food security. Because women play a vital role in agriculture, neglecting gender issues in agriculture can be costly, socially and economically. Strengthening the role of women in agriculture could boost agricultural productivity and income, and closing the gender gap by ensuring gender equality in access to productive resources would raise agricultural output in developing countries and help reduce hunger[4].

CIRDAP is proud to organize a webinar to celebrating the International Day of Rural Women and look forward to promoting its gender on rural development programme as part of the work plan 2020+ in the years to come.

[1] UN Women. 2013.

[2] UN Women. 2019.

[3] FAO 2020. Gendered impacts of COVID-19 and equitable policy responses in agriculture, food security and nutrition.

[4] Axèle Giroud and Jacqueline Salguero Huaman. 2019. Investment in agriculture and gender equality in developing countries. UNCTAD. (click here)