The UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro has called for systematic and comprehensive strategies to empower women in rural areas to maximize their potential to combat extreme poverty and hunger, and help them facilitate sustainable development in their communities.
“If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and hunger would decline,” Ms. Migiro told delegates on 27th February 2012 at the opening of the 56th two-week session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
“Yet the reality is that rural women and girls have restricted access to land, agricultural inputs, finance, extension services and technology. Rural women also face more difficulty in gaining access to public services, social protection, employment, and markets,” she said.
The commission’s latest session focuses on the role of rural women and their contributions to fighting poverty and hunger, and how they can be empowered to become effective catalysts of sustainable development.
Ms. Migiro said that rural women must first be recognized as key agents of change. Support for their organizations can help ensure that rural women’s priorities are reflected in macroeconomic policies and rural development and agricultural programmes, she said.
She called for a re-examination of financing for rural development, agriculture and climate change mitigation and adaptation to ensure that it prioritizes rural women and girls.
“We need to give greater attention to infrastructure projects, water schemes, renewable energy sources and biodiversity protection,” said Ms. Migiro, noting that only five per cent of agricultural extension services go to women farmers.
Noting that “ad-hoc interventions” are insufficient, the Deputy Secretary-General called for a broader policy environment that is responsive to the rights and needs of rural women and girls.
“States must abolish discriminatory laws and policies, such as those that limit women’s rights to land, property and inheritance, or that restrict their legal capacity,” she added.