International Day of Rural Women

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Rural Women celebrates and honors the role of rural women on October 15 each year. It recognizes rural women’s importance in enhancing agricultural and rural development worldwide.

International Day of Rural Women

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on October 15, 2008. This day recognizes the role of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

The idea of honoring rural women with a special day was put forward at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995. It was suggested that October 15 be celebrated as “World Rural Women’s Day,” which is the eve of World Food Day, to highlight rural women’s role in food production and food security. “World Rural Women’s Day” was previously celebrated across the world for more than a decade before it was officially a UN observance.

Rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. But limited access to credit, health care and education are among the many challenges they face, which are further aggravated by the global food and economic crises and climate change. Empowering them is key not only to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities, but also to overall economic productivity, given women’s large presence in the agricultural workforce worldwide. See more about The role of women in rural development, food production and poverty eradication.

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 15 October 2008. This new international day, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of 18 December 2007, recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

Rural women the world over play a major role in ensuring food security and in the development and stability of the rural areas. Yet, with little or no status, they frequently lack the power to secure land rights or to access vital services such as credit, inputs, extension services , training and education. Their vital contribution to society goes largely unnoticed. World rural Women’s Day aims to change this by bringing rural women out of obscurity at least once a year – to remind society how much they owe to rural women and to give value and credit to their work.

Activities can be organized independently in different ways according to specific local priorities and traditions. It is important, however, that any activities or events be concrete and visible to raise the profile of rural women in the public eye. It is up to your own organization, group or committee to make this day meaningful according to your own circumstances.

Many people, government agencies, community groups and non-government associations celebrate the International Day of Rural Women on October 15 every year. Television, radio, online, and print media broadcast or publish special features to promote the day. Panel discussions, research papers, and conferences are also held to review and analyze rural women’s role in society, particularly in areas such as economic improvement and agricultural development.

Other activities and events held to promote the day include:

  • Global exchange programs for women in agriculture.
  • The launch of fundraising projects to support rural women.
  • Expos and workshops showcasing rural women’s contribution to their societies.
  • Strategic meetings to present issues on topics, such as empowering women farmers, to policy makers.

Some world leaders inspired by this initiative previously proclaimed October 15 as International Rural Women’s Day, drawing special focus on the role of rural women in their countries.


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