According to the World Bank, rural women comprise 43 percent of the agricultural labor force, and produce, process and prepare much of the food available.
Indeed, women have the primary responsibility for food security. Despite this, they are often given little recognition, and gender equality is still pervasive throughout the world. In recognition of these women, we celebrate International Day for Rural Women on October 15.
While poverty is an issue that affects the lives of both men and women, women carry the burden of securing food for their families, while having no or limited access to education, resources and work opportunities, in addition to caring for their children and the elderly. Women are rarely given chances to be a part of the decision making, regardless of being the backbone of rural societies. While there have been advances in gender equality and the status of women in their communities, women still are marginalized.
Acknowledging and finding solutions to the challenges that rural women face can improve women’s productivity, which in turn can make a substantial contribution to raising overall agricultural production, and can act as the means to break the vicious cycle that leads to poverty and hunger. Large lifetime income gaps are caused by limited access to social protection, differences in women’s employment opportunities and gender pay gaps. In order to address this gap, the UN proposes a 3-point framework for action:
- Resources: Redressing women’s socio-economic disadvantage
- Respect: Addressing stereotyping, stigma, and violence
- Voice: Strengthening women’s agency, voice and participation.
The Hunger Project believes that by changing the status of women, you can change the world. Women consist of 80 percent of our microfinance program in Africa, where women are provided with the opportunity to boost income through training, credit and savings programs. We also strengthen women’s voices through Women’s Empowerment Workshops (WEP). Across Africa, active WEP animators work as agents of change for their community. These animators provide workshops on how women can run their own businesses, protection against HIV/AIDS through education, and resisting child marriage.
Read the full UN Progress Report
Learn about The Hunger Project’s Microfinance program