Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty




In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations chose 8 March as International Women’s Day. Thirty-five years later, the theme for 2010 is “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all.” In addition to the global theme, each country or group celebrating the day can choose its own topic to make the day locally relevant.

For the three Rome-based United Nations agencies – IFAD, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – International Women’s Day will be celebrated this year with an event honouring the resilience of women in Haiti.

“Haiti: The Road to Recovery” will take place at WFP headquarters in Rome on Monday, 8 March 2010. It will focus on the challenges Haitian women face in the aftermath of the devastating 12 January earthquake, their role in the country’s rehabilitation, and the best ways for the Rome-based agencies to support Haitian women as they bring order out of chaos through solidarity, compassion and practical action.

Three prominent leaders of Haiti’s nascent women’s movement who lost their lives – Anne Marie Coriolan, Magalie Marcelin and Myriam Merlet – will be honoured.

Promoting women’s leadership

In Haiti, women have demonstrated time and again that when given opportunities and leadership they can perform – very effectively – critical roles that benefit entire communities. But women need the means to be able to perform these functions. In most developing countries, women  produce the bulk of the world’s food crops. Yet women face greater constraints than men, and lack the means, the services and the opportunities to increase their yields and their earnings. Stronger, more representative farmers’ organizations, in which women play an active part, enable rural women to influence the decisions on policies and resources that affect their livelihoods and those of their families.

This year’s Farmers’ Forum, held at IFAD headquarters in Rome, focused on the importance of ensuring women are given equal opportunities to take a leadership role in farmers’ organizations. The Forum was preceded by a Workshop on Promoting Women’s Leadership in Farmer Organizations, which issued a statement calling for action to increase women’s power and their voice.