In Focus: International Day of Rural Women

Juana Alva, 37, harvests zucchini in a greenhouse in San Cristóbal Tepeteopán, Mexico.  Photo: UN Women/Dzilam Méndez
Photo: UN Women/Dzilam Méndez

Top stories | Infographic |Videos |Social media

The theme for the International Day of Rural Women (15 October), “Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All”, highlights the essential role that rural women and girls play in the food systems of the world.

From production of crops to processing, preparing and distributing foods, women’s labour – paid and unpaid – feeds their families, communities and the world. Yet, they do not wield equal power with men, and as a result, they earn less income and experience higher food insecurity.

Despite our planet’s capacity to provide sufficient and good food for all, hunger, malnourishment, and food insecurity are rising in many parts of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic, along with climate crises, have made matters worse: some 2.37 billion people did not have enough to eat in 2020 –that’s 20 per cent more than the year before.

UN Women’s latest report, Beyond COVID-19: A feminist plan for sustainability and social justice, calls for rebuilding the broken global food system from the bottom-up by supporting rural women’s livelihoods to produce and distribute diverse and healthy food crops. With less than 10 years to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including Zero Hunger (Goal 2) and Gender Equality (Goal 5), UN Women is working to support rural women and girls around the world, to build their resilience, skills and leadership.

UN Women statement on the International Day of Rural Women

This International Day of Rural Women offers us a renewed opportunity to commit to a different way of organizing our world, to build on the vision of the Feminist Plan and on the outcomes and multistakeholder commitments of the recent United Nations Food System Summit, so that rural women benefit equally from their productivity, with good food enjoyed by all. Learn more ►

Top stories

Frosina Georgievska. Photo: UN Women/Mirjana Nedeva
Zivka Gjurchinovska, North Macedonia
Zivka Gjurchinovska is a farmer and mother of three who has been working in agriculture for 20 years – producing corn, wheat, beans, potatoes and other vegetables. A few years back, at their children’s suggestion, Gjurchinovska and her husband decided to try growing hazelnuts. They now have 750 hazel trees on 8,000 m2 of leased land.
At the launch of the programme in September 2020, Mariamu Rasidi was one of the women farmers who came to celebrate support from UN Women. Photo: UN Women.
Mariamu Rasidi Tungu, Tanzania
In Tanzania, women make up more than half of the workforce in the agriculture sector, but remain poor, says Mariamu Rasidi Tungu. Most of them work in family farms without any payment and lack access to land ownership.
Ramat Khan is a community educator with UN Women’s Second Chance Education and Vocational Learning Programme in Rajasthan, India. She is seen here with some of her students at a women’s empowerment hub, which provide safe spaces for women and girls to access education and vocational skills and training.  Photo: UN Women India
Ramat Khan, India
Ramat Khan is a community educator with a UN Women programme in rural Rajasthan, India. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Khan taught lessons to the girls and women in her village, while taking precautions to stop the spread of the virus. Her message for every parent: educate your girls.
The counseling team of experts at Fundacion Espacio de la Mujer in Moreno. Photo: UNIC Buenos Aires
Irene Cari, Argentina
“Even though women work the land, they do not own it,” explains Irene Cari Lack of economic autonomy compounds the challenges that women face in abusive relationships. The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative supported organizations to help indigenous and rural women access information and services in their own languages, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn the facts: Rural women and girls

Rural women ensure food security for their communities, build climate resilience and strengthen economies. Yet, gender inequalities, such as discriminatory laws and social norms, combined with a fast-changing economic, technological and environmental landscape restrict their full potential, leaving them far behind men and their urban counterparts. Learn more ►


Social media

  • Use #ruralwomen on social media to show the world that you stand in solidarity with rural women and their organizations everywhere as they seek to influence the decisions that shape their lives.
  • Spread the message with GIFs, infographics and other visuals that you can download from our social media package with images and messages in English, Spanish and French, available here:

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See our coverage of International Day for Rural Women from previous years: 2019, 201820172016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011