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15 October 2003: World Rural Women's Day  
"Towards greater access to land and water"

Rural women make up more than a quarter of the world's population. In order to raise the profile of rural women, sensitize both governments and the public to their crucial yet largely unrecognised roles, and promote action to support them, World Rural Women's Day is marked every year on 15 October, the day before World Food Day.

Women produce on average more than half of all the food that is grown: up to 80% in Africa, 60% in Asia, between 30 and 40% in Latin America and Western countries. Yet despite their crucial role, only 5% of all agricultural extension resources are directed to women, women own only 2% of the land and receive only 1% per cent of all agricultural credit worldwide (source: IFAP/WWSF).

World Rural Women's Day was initially proposed by a number of organisations - The International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), Network of African Rural Women Associations (NARWA), and the Women's World Summit Foundation (WWSF) - during the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. This year's theme of World Rural Women's Day, which honours the important contribution rural women make to global food production and security as well as to the development of rural economies, is 'Towards greater access to land and water'.

For more information:

The improvement of the situation of rural women: Report of the United Nations Secretary General to the General Assembly

International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) World Rural Women's Day homepage by IFAP

Women's World Summit Foundation (WWSF) World Rural Women's Day webpage by WWSF

Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Gender page of FAO

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Gender page of IFAD

World Food Programme (WFP) WFP webpage on women

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