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SG/SM/20343
15 October 2020

Gender Digital Divide Wide for Rural Women, Secretary-General Notes, in Message for International Day Observance

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the International Day of Rural Women, “Building Rural Women’s Resilience in the Wake of Covid-19”, observed today:

Rural women play a critical role in agriculture, food security and nutrition, building climate resilience and managing land and natural resources.  But, many rural women suffer from discrimination, systemic racism and structural poverty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has now affected more than half the world’s women farmers with restrictions on movement, the closure of shops and markets, and disruption to their supply chains.  Combined with challenges including increased unpaid care and domestic work and rising rates of gender-based violence, rural women are bearing some of the heaviest burdens of the pandemic.

Digital channels can offer a lifeline in rural areas, providing information on access to health care, as well as agricultural updates.  However, the gender digital divide is particularly wide for rural women, who make up just a quarter of users of digital agricultural solutions.  Helping rural women through the pandemic and building their resilience for the future will require solidarity and support from all.

Together, we must invest in rural women so that they have access to the health‑care, social‑protection and agricultural information services they need.  We must close the digital divide and provide essential services to respond to the shadow pandemic of violence against women.  And we must tackle the discriminatory land and inheritance laws and practices that make rural women vulnerable to losing their sources of income.

On the International Day of Rural Women, let us renew our commitment to rural women in all their diversity; increase our efforts to support them through the COVID‑19 pandemic; and work with them to build their resilience to future crises.

For information media. Not an official record.