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WWSF - 15 October - International Day for Rural Women

Messages of support

Fundação Para O Desenvolvimento Da Communidate, Mozambique
Graça Machel
" [...] I salute you today, the 15 October 2003, World Rural Women’s Day which is being celebrated world wide. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the important efforts made by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) to galvanize the commemoration of this day globally. WWSF has promoted activities that give visibility to rural women and their contribution to household food security, sustainable development and peace. The use of the annual Open Letter to rural women of the world is an important instrument to educate the community at large and remind rural women of their rights. I commend the Prize awarded for women’s creativity in rural life, awarded since 1994 to so many creative and courageous community leaders who take on educating and training thousands of rural women who are the actors of local and national development and food production. Rural women need to become visible and reckoned with.[2003] "
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15 October-International Day of Rural Women

( as of 2007, a UN Resolution Day Nº. A/Res/42/936)

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Introduction / History

World Rural Women's Day was launched by several international NGOs during the 4th UN World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995 and a worldwide empowerment and educational campaign is annually organized since1997 by the Women's World Summit Foundation WWSF. Celebrations and events take place in more than 100 countries around the world.

WWSF also publishes every year an OPEN LETTER TO RURAL WOMEN OF THE WORLD on a special subject. 20,000 poster and Open Letters are disseminated to NGOs, development organisations, Human Rights groups and the media.

About the day... World Rural Women's Day takes place each year on 15 October. 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.

About the activities... 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.

Some ideas: Exposure and publicity. Mention World Rural Women's Day in all your publications, newsletters, networks or homepage, contact your local or national radio explaining why it is important that the role and work of rural women is recognized. Hold a press conference, organize an exhibition, and create a national award for exceptional rural women or women's groups.

Collaboration: Link up with sister organizations, other women's group for a joint event and to reinforce each other's efforts. For example, convene a panel discussion and invite rural women's NGOs to present their projects, discuss their needs, what works and what doesn't. Find out what your national FAO committee for World Food Day is doing - suggest a joint activity - join in with their celebrations.

Contacts: Inform local authorities, such as local extension agents, the mayor, headman and tell them what you are doing.

Issue raising: Write a letter to your Minister of Agriculture or Prime Minster drawing attention to the contribution and problems facing rural women in your country. If possible, propose to visit the Minister with a delegation - or invite the Minister to come to your World Rural Women's Day event.

Special events... Organize, for example, a village fair, a stand in the main street, a sale of foodstuffs or handicrafts, put on a play or a show, with songs and music to draw attention to your contribution to sustainable development and problems as rural women, invite the mayor, headman, local authorities as guests, organize a regional workshop on an issue of specific concern to rural women or a national parade through your capital city, with banners, music, etc.

Did you know...

Rural women comprise more than one quarter of the total world population. 500 million women live below the poverty line in rural areas. Women produce 60-80% of basic foodstuffs in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Women perform over 50% of the labor involved in intensive rice cultivation in Asia. Women perform 30% of the agricultural work in industrialized countries. Women head 60% of households in some regions of Africa: Women meet 90% of household water and fuel needs in Africa. Women process 100% of basic household foodstuffs in Africa."