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International Day of Rural Women: UN recognizes contributions of Rural Women

New York: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the vital contributions of rural women to development, while calling for their enjoyment of a full range of rights from property ownership and inheritance, to health and education.

“Rural women do most of the agricultural work in developing countries, but endure the worst working conditions, with low pay and little or no social protection,” Mr. Ban noted in his message for the International Day of Rural Women, observed annually on 15 October.

“Rural women produce most of the world’s food, yet they are often excluded from land tenure and the credit and business services they need to prosper. “They are the primary users and custodians of local natural resources, but are seldom given a voice on national and local bodies that decide how these resources are managed. “They are the care-givers and managers of households, but rarely share these responsibilities equally with men or have a say in major household decisions,” added the Secretary-General.

He pointed out that rural women are essential to agricultural development, food and nutrition security and the management of natural resources, and stressed the need to ensure that they can play an equal role in sustainable rural and national development.

At last month’s Millennium Development Goals summit in New York, Member States pledged to ensure equal access for rural women to productive resources, land, financing, technologies, training and markets.

The MDGs encompass eight internationally-agreed targets which aim to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality and environmental degradation, all by 2015. Member States also committed at the summit to the full and equal participation of rural women in national development – not simply as equal beneficiaries, but as equal partners, recalled Mr. Ban.

“I call on governments and communities everywhere to ensure these promises are met so that rural women and girls can enjoy a full range of rights – from property and inheritance, to health, education and freedom from violence.

UN News Service

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Noreen Gill

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