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UN Recognises Women’s Role In Development
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Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
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Last week, UN Women marked three occasions that reflect women's key role in development.

These were the International Day for Rural Women on October 15, World Food Day on October 16, and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17.

According to the UN Women, rural women, the majority of whom depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods, make up over a quarter of the total global population.

In developing countries, rural women represent approximately 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force, and produce, process and prepare much of the food available, thereby giving them a primary responsibility for food security.

Access to resources
Bearing in mind that 76 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, ensuring rural women’s access to productive agricultural resources empowers them and contributes to decreasing world hunger and poverty.

UN Women supports the leadership and participation of rural women in shaping laws, policies and programmes on all issues that affect their lives, including improved food and nutrition security, and better rural livelihoods. Training equips them with skills to pursue new livelihoods and adapt technology to their needs.

In her message to mark International Day for Rural Women, the UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, highlighted the need to ensure that women’s access to land and other productive resources were embraced in the post-2015 agenda. She said rural women’s voices must be recognised in policy making in order to end discriminatory agricultural practices and guarantee the wellbeing of women and their families.

She said all over the world, gender inequality in access to land and other productive resources was intrinsically related to women's poverty and exclusion. Women's rights to access, use, control, and own land and other productive resources are essential to reverse this.

"Sustainable solutions are not imposed from the outside. It is of utmost importance that rural women's voices are heard in discussions, debates and policymaking about their lives," she said.

Complex obstacles
The message indicated that every day rural women face complex obstacles that block their rights to land. These include discriminatory laws and practices governing inheritance and marital property; gender-biased land reforms that benefited men over women; unequal access to land markets; and discriminatory attitudes and beliefs.

In another message to mark the occasion, the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, said: "Collectively, rural women are a force that can drive global progress."

He added that if rural women were given access to productive agricultural and natural resources, they would be empowered and could contribute more to alleviate hunger and boost the ability of their communities to cope with the effects of climate change, land degradation and displacement.

According to Mr Ban, there is the need for proactive measures to address the discrimination and deprivation that rural women continue to suffer. "When we give rural women access to productive agricultural and natural resources, we empower them. They, in turn, can contribute more to alleviating hunger and boost the ability of their communities to cope with the effects of climate change, land degradation and displacement. This benefits all people", he stated.
Source: Daily Graphic

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