Secretary-General's Message for 2019
Rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential. The devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship.
Almost a third of women’s employment worldwide is in agriculture. Women cultivate land, collect food, water and essential fuels, and sustain entire households, but lack equal access to land, finances, equipment, markets and decision-making power.
Climate change exacerbates these inequalities, leaving rural women and girls further behind. A quarter of the total damage and loss resulting from climate-related disasters between 2006 and 2016 was suffered by the agricultural sector in developing countries, and women suffer disproportionately in such disasters.
At the same time, rural women are a repository of knowledge and skills that can help communities and societies adapt to the consequences of climate change through nature-based, low-carbon solutions. As farmers and producers, they play a central role in embracing both traditional and modern practices to respond to climate variability and shocks like droughts, heat waves, and extreme rainfall.
Listening to rural women and amplifying their voices is central to spreading knowledge about climate change and urging governments, businesses and community leaders to act. As early adopters of new agricultural techniques, first responders in crises and entrepreneurs of green energy, rural women are a powerful force that can drive global progress.
On this International Day of Rural Women, let us take a concrete step towards such a future by supporting rural women and girls around the world.