Rural women constitute over a quarter of the total world population. Most of these women depend on natural resources and farming for their livelihood. In developing countries, rural women comprise approximately 43 per cent of the agricultural labor force, thereby giving them the primary responsibility for food security. Considering the fact that 76 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, it is important to empower rural women by giving them access to productive agriculture in order to decrease world hunger and poverty.
In order to acknowledge the efforts of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, The United Nations’ (UN) celebrates the International Day of Rural Women on October 15 each year.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on account of the International Day of Rural women said, “Empowering rural women is crucial for ending hunger and poverty. By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future.” Therefore, it is important to empower rural women and enhance food security.
Women belonging to the rural areas are strong and resilient. They often take the leading responsibility in food production, look after the livestock, provide their families with basic necessities and engage in off-farm activities to diversify their families’ livelihoods. Moreover, these women are also caretakers of their children, the elderly and sick.
In Pakistan, rural women are usually seen in subordinate roles with low levels of education, technical skills, business exposure, income and investment capacity. Improvements need to be made in order to engage women in other activities to fill in the gap in awareness. Society does not permit these women to receive formal training in order to enter the market place which is why they are subject to so many barriers. They not only lack financial resources, but also lack awareness for the facilities available to develop their skills. However, economic necessity is forcing them to take on multiple roles in order to support their families. Most of them are engaged in some sort of employment without giving up on their traditional roles.
In any country, women are the vital ingredient for development. Equipping them for empowerment can serve as a catalyst that can change the lives of many others living in some of the poorest communities of the world.