International Day of Rural Women
International Day of Rural Women is observed on 15th October every year to recognize the struggle and critical role rural women play in agriculture, food security, and nutrition. They take on different functions in the agricultural value chain as farmers, farmworkers, informal traders, and decision-makers in agriculture organizations. Women also take responsibility for their family’s wellbeing and the responsibility of food provision and care for children and the elderly sitting squarely on their shoulders.
On this day we are celebrating the role and invaluable contributions of women and girls all around the world towards protecting forests and biodiversity, producing healthy and sustainable food, and providing for their families and communities.
In India, this day is observed as Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas since 2016 the main objective of celebrating this day is to create awareness and to encourage women farmers to take up different income generation activities in agriculture and allied sectors to enhance the economy of the nation. Rural women are the backbone of the rural economy in the country. Women are contributing to various aspects of agriculture including sowing, planting, fertilizing, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
The theme of International Day of Rural Women 2021 is “Rural women cultivating good food for all” to recognize the work of these rural women in the food systems of the world, and let’s claim rural areas with equal opportunities for all.
History of International Day of Rural Women
This day has been celebrated since October 15th, 2008, when it was declared so by the United Nations. Its purpose is to recognize the hard work of these great women and their contribution to global development, food safety, and the eradication of poverty. Rural women also help the global climate by sowing, taking care of the soil, and collecting water for small populations.
The idea of honoring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. It was suggested that October 15 be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” which is the eve of World Food Day, to highlight rural women’s role in food production and food security. “World Rural Women’s Day” was previously celebrated across the world for more than a decade before it was officially a UN observance. Many of these women engage in subsistence farming, which feeds their families and combats hunger.
United Nations Women says that even with all their proven worth and contribution, rural women are still laboring under acutely disadvantageous conditions. With insufficient infrastructure and services in rural areas stretched to the limit, the invaluable care and productive work of women during the pandemic continued, in many places without clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene, energy supply, or healthcare services.
How to observe International Day of Rural Women
It’s necessary for everyone to learn about their contributions and their work so they may be properly supported and respected to raise awareness for the day. Governments and society need to pay attention to their needs and invest in rural women, pursuing the political and socio-economic empowerment of rural women and supporting their full and equal participation in decision-making at all levels.
U.N. calls Governments and social groups to support rural women and this is done through various events held on this day. Do your part by sharing the hashtag #ruralwomen or #InternationalDayOfRuralWomen on social media. It is the perfect day to thank rural women for their hard work in whatever way you can.
Currently, with the global pandemic, as a high-risk population, women have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. This, coupled with scarce resources and the high cost of sanitary requirements, makes daily life a constant struggle for female farmers. Rural women are caretakers of the earth, mothers, entrepreneurs, and fighters. This International Day of Rural Women should serve as a call to action for all influential stakeholders to support rural women to not only rebuild their lives post Covid-19 but increase their resilience to be better prepared to face future crises.
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