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Governments need to halt the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on rural women, says IFAD President on International Day of Rural Women

IFAD Press Release

Rome, 15 October 2020 – Our food supply is at risk if we don’t start
prioritizing rural women during this pandemic, said Gilbert F. Houngbo,
President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development
(IFAD) in a strong call to governments to increase their investments in
rural women.

“It is unacceptable that rural women, who play such a vital role in
growing our food and building thriving economies, are at greatest risk
during the pandemic,” said Houngbo on the occasion of the
International Day of Rural Women. “Our global resilience depends on
governments paying greater attention to the disproportionate
socio-economic impacts on rural women and stepping up their investments
to protect them.”

There are approximately 1.7 billion women and girls living in rural
areas, representing more than one-fifth of all humanity. Rural women
make up 43 per cent of the agricultural work force in developing
countries, and are responsible for much of the world’s food
production. However they have less access than men to technologies,
markets, financial assets and agricultural resources, making them far
more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.

Restrictions on movement have limited the ability of rural producers to
grow and sell their produce. Rural women, who are often employed
informally with no social protection, have faced higher job loss than
men, whilst also experiencing an increase in unpaid domestic workloads
including caring for sick family members and children not in school.

“Rural women – the people who have the greatest responsibility for
feeding and raising the next generation – have been neglected through
this crisis,” said Houngbo. “It is time to elevate the important
contribution they make to their families, communities and the economies
of their nations, and ensure that they are supported and protected
through this unprecedented time.”

While much progress has been made in the 25 years since the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action which provided a framework for
addressing women’s empowerment, achieving gender equality in rural
areas has been challenging. Women aged 25-34 are still 25 percent more
likely than men to live in extreme poverty

Press release No: IFAD/48/2020