International Day of Rural Women: Empowering women to transform rural areas

Message from Perin Saint Ange, Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department

On the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women (15 October 2016), IFAD celebrates women and girls in rural areas and the vital role that they play in their families, their communities and their countries.

In many parts of the world, women typically work for 12 hours more every week than their male counterparts. They are largely responsible for domestic duties, child care and elder care. In addition, women carry out a substantial and growing part of the work on family farms – with male out-migration increasingly leaving them to manage alone. Women boost  agricultural and rural economies with their labour and with their knowledge – of crop and livestock varieties, biodiversity and agricultural practices. Research has also shown that women spend a far larger part of their income than men on household expenses, including food, education and healthcare.

Despite their crucial multiple contributions, much of women’s work is undervalued, underpaid, or not paid at all. Women farmers in the vast majority of developing countries still have significantly greater difficulties than men in accessing essential resources and services, including land, finance and inputs.

Rural labour markets tend to favour educated young men, marginalizing women and young women and obliging them to accept poorly paid often exploitative employment options.

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