Background on International Rural Women\’s Day and World Food Day

International Day of Rural Women – 15 October
The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Rural Women celebrates and honors the role of rural women on October 15 each year. It recognizes rural women’s importance in enhancing agricultural and rural development worldwide.

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008. This day recognizes the role of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.
The idea of honouring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. It was suggested that October 15 be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” which is the eve of World Food Day, to highlight rural women’s role in food production and food security. “World Rural Women’s Day” was previously celebrated across the world for more than a decade before it was officially a UN observance. 

United Nations Women

  • Women and girls in far-flung villages are very rarely in the spotlight. From 15 – 17 October, UN Women commemorates three key United Nations observances related to women’s role in development—International Day of Rural Women (15 October), World Food Day (16 October) and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October).
  • Rural women’s rights, food,and poverty are issues that are inextricably linked. In 2016, the International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day will focus jointly on the theme “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”.
  • Farmers, fishers, and pastoralists stand on the frontlines of food insecurity as temperatures rise, weather patterns become less predictable and climate-related disasters become more frequent. As key actors in food systems, as small-scale farmers and those in charge of ensuring adequate nutrition for families, rural women are at the centre of this challenge.
  • Yet, their voices are muted; their choices restricted. Women farmers control less land than do men—less than 20 per cent of landholders are women —and also have limited access to inputs, seeds, credits, climate-smart technologies or finance. Whether they stay back to care for their families and communities when environmental degradation or disasters strike, or migrate to find food, safety and decent work, rural women are exponentially more vulnerable and marginalized.
  • Empowering rural women is a pre-requisite to fulfilling the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals that aim to end poverty and hunger, achieve food security and empower all women and girls.

(The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN)

Background on International Day of Rural Women – 15 October and World Food Day – 16 October

World Food Day – 16 October
World Food Day is annually held on October 16 to commemorate the founding of the United Nations\’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The FAO aims to raise levels of nutrition across the globe, improve agricultural productivity at all levels, enhance the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy. It also provides assistance to countries changing their agricultural policy, to aid regions out of famine situations, to help implement appropriate technology and facilitate a neutral environment to discuss issues around food production.
At the FAO\’s 20th session in Rome, Italy, in November 1979 the conference called for the observance of World Food Day on October 16, 1981, and on the same date each year. The UN General Assembly ratified this decision and urged governments and international, national and local organizations to contribute to observing World Food Day. World Food Day has been held each year since 1981.

\’Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too\’

  • One of the biggest issues related to climate change is food security. The world’s poorest – many of whom are farmers, fishers, and pastoralists – are being hit hardest by higher temperatures and an increasing frequency of weather-related disasters.
  • At the same time, the global population is growing steadily and is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To meet such a heavy demand, agriculture and food systems will need to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and become more resilient, productive and sustainable. This is the only way that we can ensure the well-being of ecosystems and rural populations and reduce emissions.
  • Growing food in a sustainable way means adopting practices that produce more with less in the same area of land and use natural resources wisely. It also means reducing food losses before the final product or retail stage through a number of initiatives including better harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure, market mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks.
  • This is why our global message for World Food Day 2016 is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”
  • It resonates with the crucial time in which the day will be observed, just before the next UN Climate Change Conference, COP 22, from 7-18 November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco.
  • FAO is calling on countries to address food and agriculture in their climate action plans and invest more in rural development.
  • By strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers, we can guarantee food security for the planet’s increasingly hungry global population also reduce emissions.

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