Celebrating the International Day of Rural Women

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Celebrating the International Day of Rural Women

Message from IFAD's President Gilbert Houngbo on International Day of Rural Women

Women thatch roofs in Tra Vinh province, Viet Nam ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

October 15 is the International Day of Rural Women and a chance to celebrate women and girls who play a key role in rural areas enhancing agricultural development, building climate resilience, facing malnutrition and food insecurity.

Despite being too often excluded from decisions that affect their daily lives and despite being limited by unequal resource allocation, rural women are fundamental both within and outside their households. Paid or not, they undertake a wide range of tasks. They manage natural resources, adopt climate-resilient agricultural approaches, preserve biodiversity and agriculture productivity.

With the new IFAD Gender Action Plan (2019-2025) IFAD is committed to enhance the impact of its efforts in favour of rural women, ensuring that its development interventions are even more transformative. Main investments on the technical level include:

Engagement of all family members, through household methodologies, to leverage the positive complementarities between women and men, young and old, to challenge unequal intra-household relations and labour distribution, and promote equitable sharing of resources, income and workload in rural areas. These methodologies empower households to encourage their development and to create stronger, more resilient and sustainable smallholder farming and rural livelihood systems;

Reinforcement of women’s leadership at all levels – from the farm to farmers’ associations to global farmers’ forums. We are committed to foster rural women’s participation and leadership in farmer and producer organizations and other decision-making bodies;

Reinforcement of rural women’s self-confidence, knowledge and skills – including technical, leadership and managerial – through gender-sensitive extension and business advisory services, vocational training, functional literacy and adoption of appropriate learning approaches;

Promotion of more equitable balance in workloads and in the sharing of economic and social benefits between women and men. Labour-saving technologies and innovations, infrastructure development, and access to water, energy – including renewable energy –, roads and transport all contribute to reducing women’s burden of work, thus enabling them to assume economic leadership and decision-making roles.

Strengthen women’s social capital forming women groups and empowering them to access and manage key resources, assets and access to markets;

On a higher level, IFAD keeps working with governmental institutions to create an enabling policy, institutional and cultural environment to support gender equality and rural women's empowerment and sustain long term impact.

We know that empowering rural women – economically and socially – makes the difference to their families,  communities and countries. This is not only important from the point of view of equity or justice, but it is also crucial to foster sustainable economies and benefit  all humankind across the globe.

Evidences from IFAD's operations confirm that, when rural women are economically empowered, they have the influence, education and information to make decisions about the use of their income, savings and loans. When they have access to services and resources such as credit, they easily become powerful agents of rural transformation.  

Today we want to recall that poverty reduction, sustainable development, food and nutrition security are not possible without a fully and optimal engagement of rural women, including young generations of girls that can lead the transformation and be agents of change in all aspects of their daily lives.


Find out more about rural women