Rural women around the world deprived of their human rights, say UN chief

15 October 2009 – Women living in rural areas in many parts of the world face severe deprivations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in a message on the International Day of Rural Women calling for greater support of their rights.

Noting that the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) – the only international human rights treaty that specifically addresses rural women – falls this year, Mr. Ban said that women frequently do not benefit from its provisions.

“They are among those hit hardest by the inadequate rate of progress in improving maternal health,” said Mr. Ban.

“They have limited access to life-saving resources such as drinking water, electricity and roads,” he said, stressing that too “many rural women and girls are not in school, and they lack equitable access to decision-making processes, meaning that their voices are not heard.”

Mr. Ban said that the Convention calls on all States parties to ensure that women fully participate in rural development; have access to health care, social security programmes, training, education, credit and loans; and benefit equally from infrastructure investments such as sanitation, water, transport and communications.

“Let us commit to increasing investments in the resources, infrastructure and services which would ease rural women’s workloads and release their time and energy for engagement in the labour market and public life,” he said.

“On this International Day, let us pledge to do our utmost to put the rights, needs and aspirations of rural women much higher on the global agenda.”


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