International Women's Day 2017

8 March 2017 – International Women's Day is held every year on 8 March to celebrate women's achievements throughout history and across nations. The theme for International Women’s Day this year focuses on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030.”

The world of work is changing, with significant implications for rural women. Globalization, rural transformation and technological advancement create opportunities for economic growth, food security and better nutrition. But the same trends can also generate growing inequalities in access to decent work, and exacerbate the conditions that lead to unstable incomes and precarious livelihoods, which often particularly affect women.

In developing countries, women make up 45 per cent of the agricultural labour force, ranging from 20 per cent in Latin America to up to 60 per cent in parts of Africa and Asia. However, women do significantly more unpaid work than men - especially in providing care to families and communities - limiting their capacity to earn incomes and improve their skills.

“We need to face the fact that we will never overcome poverty and hunger without empowering rural women,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze in a media release on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

“We have ample evidence from around the world that greater empowerment of women in rural and urban areas leads to higher economic growth and a better quality of life for women and men alike," continued Nwanze.

"Despite progress, it is still the case today that rural women’s double burden of farm labour and unpaid domestic work prevents them from participating fully and fairly in income-generating activities. Improving rural women’s access to technologies that save time and labour is essential to reducing their workloads. Transforming gender relations within the family is also crucial to empowering women and enabling them to make decisions about their lives.”

Measures that are crucial to ensuring rural women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work include improving their access to economic opportunities, productive resources, jobs, health services, social protection and education. Evidence shows that malnutrition rates fall significantly when women have access to education and employment opportunities.

In addition, policies and programmes must address gender disparities in leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as the specific needs of millions of rural women working in the informal economy, by promoting their access to formal markets and value chains, innovative technologies and practices.

Learn more about how IFAD-supported projects and programmes empower women, promote gender equality, and reduce rural poverty and hunger.

Step it up to end hunger and poverty

To mark International Women’s Day 2017 (IWD 2017), FAO, IFAD and WFP will host an event under the theme “Step It Up Together with Rural Women to End Hunger and Poverty”. Participants will share lessons, good practices and concrete actions for achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls in order to eradicate hunger and poverty.

The event will put the spotlight on women’s work and employment as key components of the fight against hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty. It will highlight forward-looking solutions and present examples of the work of the Rome-based Agencies in support of rural women in food systems and agricultural value chains.

Follow the live webcast here and join the conversation on social media at #RuralWomen, #womensday and #IWD2017.