October 15- International Day of The Rural Women

Most rural economies are based on agriculture, and most of the labor force in rural agriculture comprises women. In fact, globally, one in three employed women work in agriculture.

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They are also at the frontline when natural resources are threatened by calamity or otherwise. Despite this, the gender pay gap in rural areas can be as high as 40%. Therefore, this day recognized the crucial role of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security, and eradicating rural poverty. 

The UN General Assembly established the day on December 18, 2007, through resolution 62/136. Since then, the day has been celebrated on October 15 annually. The day has been purposely held a day before World Food Day to highlight rural women’s role in food production and food security. 

Some Facts:

• Rural women – a quarter of the world’s population – work as farmers, wage earners, and entrepreneurs. 

• Less than 20% of landholders worldwide are women.

• As women are concentrated in unpaid care and household work, and their role in subsistence farming is often unremunerated, their contribution to the rural economy is widely underestimated.

Related Websites:

• UN Women – Rural Women’s Day 2021

• FAO – Women in Agriculture and Women and Decent work

Empowering Rural Women to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals: Some Examples

The Inclusive and Equitable Local Development Programme (IELD) is a multi-country initiative of UNCDF, UN Women, and UNDP, which the Government of Sweden funds. The program facilitates women’s businesses in rural areas by providing the necessary loans. With the help of this program, many local women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have started their own businesses and have helped other women secure employment. 

In partnership with UN Women and UNESCO, the Energize project, with funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency, is helping rural women get trained in biogas and solar energy products and running sustainable businesses. 

These examples show that investing in the upliftment of rural women can benefit various human development sectors and can have a spillover effect on many Sustainable Development Goals. Including rural women in development programs will equip them with the requisite skills of the 21st century and enable them for future growth, and fast track our progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Way Forward: Building Resilience in The Face of Covid-19

The pandemic has put women and girls in a disadvantageous situation, more so in rural areas. Despite this, rural women have been at the forefront of fighting this pandemic. Therefore, gender-responsive investments in rural areas have become crucial. Rural women hold a locked-up potential to the future of equitable societies. With the right kind of policies and measures, they can be encouraged to participate meaningfully to build a resilient future. 

More information is available here: 




Shristi Banerjee

Lawyer, Jharkhand High Court (India)

Global Representative (India), Roya Institute of Global Justice