By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) – In the run up to International Women’s Day on March 8, the United Nations is renewing its call for concrete actions to address the plight of rural women who make up over a quarter of the world population yet are being left behind in every measure of development.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is: “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. This will also be the focus of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 12 to 23.
This year’s International Women’s Day comes on the heels of an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. This has taken the form of global marches and campaigns, including #MeToo and #TimesUp in the U.S. and their counterparts in other countries, on issues ranging from sexual harassment and femicide to equal pay and women’s political representation
UN Women Executive Director and Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka applauded a new era for women displaying “a remarkable gathering of strength, speaking with one voice, calling for opportunity and accountability, drawing momentum from grassroots networks and coalitions that stretch right up to government leadership.”
But rural women, “face unequal day-to-day realities because of entrenched socio-cultural norms and practices. There is an urgent need to step up efforts with concrete actions (to) fulfil the commitments made to rural women in Africa,” noted the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA).
“Rural women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force,” affirmed a research and documentation centre in Nigeria. “Yet they lack access to agricultural inputs and finance, they have less than 14 percent land holding rights, while culture, tradition and discriminatory laws deny women equal access to government programs at national and state levels.”
In Nigeria, over 90 percent of land is held and controlled by men while women as wives or daughters in many communities have little control over such lands, added Mimido Akchapa of Women Rights to Education (WREP) of Benue, Nigeria.
“They continue to suffer in silence due to discrimination on the basis of gender and not because they have less strength or intelligence to perform rural activities in the agricultural value chain,” the Benue women’s group said. “This has negative implications for basic food production and the eradication of poverty.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres said in a message ahead of the International Women’s Day: “Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls.”
He added: “There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous.”
At this crucial moment for women’s rights, he said, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. “Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 06 March 2018]
Photo credit: UN
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