Empowering Rural Women Vital to Combat Poverty and Hunger

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today said empowering rural women is vital to combat extreme poverty and hunger.

On her remarks at at the opening of the 56th two-week session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), Ms. Migiro called for systematic and comprehensive strategies to empower women in rural areas.

She notes that the formulation of comprehensive strategies can maximize their potential to combat poverty, and help them facilitate sustainable development in their communities.

“If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and hunger would decline.” -Ms. Migiro

Kaltoum Adam Imam with one of her five children collects millet in a land rented by a community leader in Saluma Area, near El Fasher (North Darfur). She works with her sister Sadias (in background). Both are from Tarne village (some kilometers away) and they emigrated to Saluma due to security reasons. Twice a week, the African UnionUN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) organizes patrols to escort women, like Imam, who are farming and collecting firewood in rural areas.

UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

She stresses that rural women and girls have restricted access to land, agricultural inputs, finance, extension services and technology. She adds rural women also face more difficulty in gaining access to public services, social protection, employment, and markets.

The session also focuses on the role of rural women and their contributions to fighting poverty and hunger.

Ms. Migiro believes ruralwomen can be empowered to become effective catalysts of sustainable development.

Ms. Migiro says that rural women must first be recognized as key agents of change.

“Support for their organizations can help ensure that rural women’s priorities are reflected in macroeconomic policies and rural development and agricultural programmes” -Ms. Migiro

She calls for a re-examination of financing for rural development, agriculture and climate change mitigation and adaptation to ensure that it prioritizes rural women and girls.

“We need to give greater attention to infrastructure projects, water schemes, renewable energy sources and biodiversity protection.” – Ms. Migiro

Only five per cent of agricultural extension services go to women farmers, Ms. Migiro noted

Noting that “ad-hoc interventions” are insufficient, Ms. Migiro calls for a broader policy environment that is responsive to the rights and needs of rural women and girls.

On November 2007, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro warned that countries’ pledges to slash poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy by 2015 at the women’s conference in Jerusalem, are at risk unless countries pay greater attention to empowering women and achieving gender equality.

The UN Women also asserts that empowering women and advancing their rights is not only the right thing to do but it can lead to progress on a range of issues, including the fight against poverty, hunger and violence.

On October 2011, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet International Day of Rural Women reminded the world of the huge contributions that rural women make to social and economic progress and in the fight against poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. She highlighted that as nations struggle with food security, it is time, more so than ever, to empower rural women.

In some parts of the world, women represent 70 percent of the agricultural workforce, comprising 43 percent of agricultural workers worldwide. Yet despite their heavy workload and productivity, rural women continue to face discrimination, which is not only a lack of justice but holds back gains in vital areas. If women farmers had equal access to resources and opportunities, they would drive greater progress in ending hunger, boosting food security, and improving health and education.

UN Women was established last year by the General Assembly to oversee the world body’s programmes aimed at promoting women’s rights and their full participation in global affairs.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.