International Day of Rural Women (15 October 2021)
She works the land full time, but almost never owns it. She works two jobs every single day, and yet she is not formally employed. She would struggle to get a loan in her name if she wanted to expand the farming business. She is Albania’s rural woman, and like millions of other women living and working in rural areas around the world, she is facing many severe challenges ranging from weak infrastructure, time poverty, lack of services, financial resources and productive assets, just to name a few.
Globally, rural women represent a quarter of the world’s population, working as farmers, wage earners and entrepreneurs. In Albania, more than 40% of women work in agriculture besides engaging in household unpaid work. Women’s ownership of land remains especially limited (less than 20%) and access to financial support almost inexistent (only 3% have ever applied).
With the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, this year International Day of Rural Women celebrates women and girls around the world who are at the forefront of promoting sustainable rural development and recovery from the pandemic. As we know full well by now, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, reducing their income, increasing their workload, threatening their foods security, as well as their personal safety.
The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals place specific emphasis on rural women economic and social empowerment as a way to increase equality and improve livelihoods. The SDGs include a target to double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, by 2030. Albania has made progress over the years, and the government continues to address these goals through its national policies and plans, which recognize the key role that women play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households, improving livelihoods and the overall wellbeing of communities.
However, more focus and resources are needed to promote rural economic empowerment of women, especially in light of the November 2019 earthquake and COVID 19. UN Women, in partnership with Italy and FAO, is supporting these efforts with a number of interventions around the country, jointly with FAO. These actions range from fostering rural women’s knowledge and vocational training, to strengthening their economic empowerment through ownership of productive assets, access to lending, and improvement of services. They also include expanding rural women agency and leadership in local decision-making processes.
On International Day of Rural Women, let us not forget the dreams and aspirations of Albanian rural women.
Michele Ribotta, Country Representative, UN Women
Fabrizio Bucci, Italian Ambassador