Did you know…

  • Women make up 51% of the agricultural labour force worldwide.
  • A study of the household
    division of labour in Bangladeshi villages found that women worked
    12 hours a day – compared with the eight to ten hours a day worked by men
    in the same villages.
  • In many regions, women
    spend up to five hours a day collecting fuelwood and water and up to four
    hours preparing food.
  • In Southeast
    Asia, women provide up to 90 percent of the labour for
    rice cultivation.
  • In Africa,
    90 percent of the work of gathering water and wood, for the household
    and for food preparation, is done by women.
  • In Pakistan,
    50 percent of rural women cultivate and harvest wheat.
  • In the world's least
    developed countries, 23 percent of rural households are headed by

(source: FAO)

The idea of a World Rural Women's Day to be devoted each year to honour these
rural women, began at a UN Conference for Women in Beijing in September 1995. Because of their
key role in food production and food security, it was decided that the
Rural Women's Day
(also known as the International Day of Rural
fall on the 15 October – the day before the World Food Day.

Past themes have
included: “
Rural Women: Leaders of Tomorrow " (2006); "Biodiversity for food
security: women farmers are ready!"
(2004); and "Human
Rights for All Rural Women" (1998)
This year’s theme is ‘Rural Women at the Heart of
Innovation'. As rural women play an essential role in countering three major
scientific challenges (global climate change, food security and population
growth) the focus for 2009 is on blending traditional knowledge and advances in
human and agricultural sciences by forging links between rural women and
researchers. Without these links agriculture's full potential will not be met
and the empowerment of women to make decisions and become entrepreneurs will be
held back.

 For more information see:

(1) A message from the President of the IFAP Committee of Women Farmers

(2) the FAO's gender and food security information

(3) The CAB Abstracts database with over 7500 records on rural women

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