Economic Empowerment for Rural Women

A blog by Sandy Hecker

 A Side event organised by the Brazil Government, WfWP, Soroptimist International and the International Federation of Business and Professional Women on 15 March.

The Concept: Rural women are the key agents in sustainable development and their empowerment is vital to achieving the full, effective and accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Access to basic services and natural resources, including water and sanitation, are key elements in this process.

Rural women and girls are crucial contributors, implementers and beneficiaries of sustainable development. Empowering them is important not only to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities, but also to overall economic productivity, given women’s large presence in the agricultural workforce throughout the world.

This event explored ideas and examples of how access to water and sanitation can promote the lives of women living rurally, and how  partnerships and cooperation are key strategies for sustainable development.

“SI President and President of WfWP, Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, spoke of diversities and the commonalities of rural women. They work long hours…women are essential to the well being of their household and community.  In many sectors women face constraints in accessing and controlling key productive resources such as land, water, natural resources and key productive resources and extensions. These women have to cope with inadequate and inaccessible infrastructure. In rural areas women face wage discrimination…climate change has a major impact.

Panelists key messages included – not all rural women are the same. There is a gap and there must be a bridge between rural and cities. Women own 20% of the land worldwide and yet, account for production of half of the world’s food. Women have limited access to seeds, credit-smart technologies, mechanical equipment, school, innovation, and health care services. Women and girls spend 200 million hours a day carrying water.

Photo: Soroptimist Gina Vucci with SI UN Representative New York, Bette Levy

To empower rural women there needs to be access to basic farm tools, and seeds to produce and sell agriculture products. Access to water. To be educated, to be a participant in decision making, access to good infrastructure, and health care with social services. To be entrepreneurs, to open and run cooperatives, and farm organisations. Interconnectivity with innovative technologies critical to empowerment.

“Shortly after event started we all stood to honor councillor Marielle Franco who was apparently assassinated by two men. Women running for elected or in elected office are subject to harassment and some are murdered”.

Photo: Willemien Koning

Women representative of the Netherlands to the UNGA Willemien Koning, spoke during the event on Gender equality, Women farmers influence in decision making processes and the empowerment of rural women and girls.

You can read her full speech HERE




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