In Focus: International Day of Rural Women

Ms. Li Yulan (second from right) and other cooperative members harvest their agricultural products, 2020. Photo: UN Women/Qiu Bi URL:
Photo: UN Women/Qiu Bi

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

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.

Otimau Mariano is travelling with the other Village Activists on public transport. Photo: UN Women/Jacqui Berrell

Otimau Mariano, Kiribati

Rotimau Mariano, 39, as Village Activist to help change the lives of others to have safe and peaceful relationships, homes, and villages. She learnt about power, and power balance between men and women. She realised about ‘power over’ and that it’s not good. I felt like that was what was happening at home with my family.

Luisa in discussion with other participants at training. Photo: UN Women/Jordanna Mareko

Luisa Tiotio Afoa Sulu, Samoa

Luisa Tiotio Afoa Sulu of Poutasi Falealili in Upolu, Samoa. The leadership training program, which aims to empower women to take their place as leaders in their homes and communities, helped Sulu through her journey from being un-employed to becoming her family’s breadwinner - becoming a Police Officer.

New Market Vendor Association in Munda, Solomon Islands. Photo: UN Women/Ednah Ramoau

Florence Rove, Solomon Islands

The new Munda Market Vendor Association will also be a platform for providing financial literacy and business skills training to women market vendors are implemented. Munda will be the fourth association in the Solomon Islands.

(L-R) Australian High Commission rep Ms Joanne Zoleveke, UN Women country programme coordinator Alvina Erekali, Contractor representative Justin Fuo'o, the Deputy Premier Randal Sifoni and the Provincial Government Secretary Fredrick Fa'abasua participate cut a ribbon to symbolise the completion of the upgrade work at the Auki Market. Photo: UN Women/Ednah Ramoau

Janet Ramo, Solomon Islands

“Being part of processes related to the completion of this structure has been a long but great learning journey for us. And most of all, we feel like we own it, that it’s ours as much as it belongs to the whole province. We will treasure this partnership...”

Happy vendor farmers at Vunisea Market on Monday. Photo: UN Women/Iliesa Ravuci

Silivia Ovaova, Fiji

Silivia Ovaova in Kadavu, Fiji who has been selling at the Vunisea Market for four years, was grateful for the tents in particular. “I’m happy that we will now have ample space to sell our produce with the additional new tents.

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 ►

In videos

Mina Devi, India

Anju Salvi, India

Sukanti Mahanta, India

Sandra Adelaida Chub, Guatemala

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 UN Women HQ