International Day of Rural Women

“Today we recognize the important contributions of rural women, including indigenous women, to development. Rural women are farmers, fishers, herders and entrepreneurs; keepers of ethnic identities, traditional knowledge and sustainable practices; care-givers, parents and guardians.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message for the International Day of Rural Women

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. This new international day, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

At the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 it was suggested that 15 October be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” on the the eve of World Food Day, in order to highlight the role played by rural women in food production and food security. “World Rural Women’s Day” has been celebrated, primarily by civil society, across the world for over a decade.

Since its establishment more than 60 years ago, the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) has worked on the issue of rural women. In recent years, the primary attention to rural women has been on a biennial basis in the context of the General Assembly, under the agenda item in the Third Committee and through the consideration of women in development in the Second Committee. The Commission on the Status of Women also includes attention to rural women in relation to the priority themes under its consideration.  To commemorate the first observance of the International Day of Rural Women, DAW launched a publication in its Women 2000 and Beyond Series entitled “Rural women in a changing world: Opportunities and challenges.” This publication focuses specifically on the situation of rural women in developing countries in the context of changes in the rural economy.

Rural women play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries. In most parts of the developing world they participate in crop production and livestock care, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and engage in off-farm activities to diversify their families’ livelihoods. In addition, they carry out vital functions in caring for children, older persons and the sick


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