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2 Mar, 2012

Remember to Mark Int’l Women’s Day on March 8, 2012

UN News Centre

International Women’s Day will be marked on March 8, 2012. The global travel & tourism industry, one of the world’s largest employers of women, can be at the forefront of events commemorating this day. Here’s some food for thought.


UN Women To Provide $10.5 Million In Grants For Empowerment Projects

United Nations, 1 March 2012 (UN News Centre) — The United Nations agency mandated to promote gender equality today announced it will give out $10.5 million in grants to organizations working to advance economic and political empowerment of women in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia.

At a high-level event at the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, said: “UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality provides direct grants for women’s empowerment and political participation. These investments are essential for women and also for the promotion of gender equality, democracy and inclusive economic growth.”

The Fund has set aside USD 10.5 million to fund approved proposals, and hopes to make more funding available if contributions increase during this grant-making cycle. Grants will start at USD 200,000 for initiatives that make tangible improvements in the lives of women and girls, from enabling women candidates to run for office, to managing resources to support themselves and their families. Grant awards will be announced in October 2012. Applicants from these regions can download the Grant Application here.

Today Ms. Bachelet also announced the grant recipients from its earlier call in October for proposals from the Arab States. These new grants respond to on-going transformation in the region, providing support to women’s empowerment and gender equality. The 15 selected organizations will receive grants totalling USD 4.85 million covering a range of innovative programmes, from advancing women’s political participation in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, to maximizing the use of technology for advocacy, to fostering sustainable development initiatives run by women in rural Morocco, Algeria and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking about the grants for the Arab States region, Ms Bachelet said: “At this moment of historic change, we cannot afford to leave women out. These grants will advance women’s efforts to achieve greater economic and political equality during this time of transition.”

The 15 grantees selected will work on a range of initiatives, including:

  •  Training programmes in Egypt for women to take on leadership roles in national political processes;
  •  Awareness-raising campaigns to reintegrate single mothers and their children into their communities in Morocco;
  •  Initiatives supporting the use of technology to foster a support network among women activists in Egypt, Libya and Yemen;
  •  Rural agricultural cooperatives for women in the high Eastern Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where environmental destruction has eroded traditional grazing economies;
  • Efforts to empower 10,000 women to engage in constitution-building in the occupied Palestinian territories;
  • Government and civil society partnerships in Algeria, through collaboration between the mayor’s office and women’s NGOs in two cities, to empower women through agriculture and small manufacturing.

Since its inception in 2009, the Fund has invested a total of USD 43 million in 40 countries around the world and is one of the largest grant-making mechanisms exclusively devoted to gender equality. The Fund was created with an initial contribution of USD 65 million from the Government of Spain, and has since expanded with contributions from Mexico, Norway, the Netherlands and individual donors.

The 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW56) brings together in New York government officials, rural women, representatives of the United Nations and civil society, the media and the private sector. They are meeting at United Nations headquarters to review progress, share experiences and good practices, analyse gaps and challenges and agree on priority actions to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality.

Further information on the commission meeting is available by clicking here.

Global Data

70 percent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor live in rural areas. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly one-third of these, while South Asia is now home to about half.

In 2010, 925 million people were chronically hungry, of whom 60 percent were women.

Agriculture provides a livelihood for 86 percent of rural women and men, and employment for about 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and landless workers, 43 percent of whom are women.

An estimated two-thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers worldwide are women.

The burden of unpaid care work is substantial. Globally there are 884 million people without safe drinking water, 1.6 billion people without reliable sources of energy, 1 billion people who lack access to roads, 2.6 billion people without satisfactory sanitation facilities, and 2.7 billion people who rely on open fires and traditional cooking stoves. Rural women carry most of the unpaid work burden due to lack of infrastructure and services.

In rural areas of the developing world, excluding China, 45 percent of women aged 20–24 were married or in union before the age of 18, compared to 22 percent of urban women.


“Rural Women can be the Life-force that will Infuse a Sustainable, Equitable Future for all Humankind” — Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro’s opening remarks to the Commission on the Status of Women

United Nations, 27 February 2012 – The Commission on the Status of Women is at the heart of the global efforts of the United Nations to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

You are all aware of the emphasis that the Secretary-General has given this issue.

Just last month, in outlining his imperatives for his second term – five generational opportunities to creatively deliver on our core mission – the Secretary-General placed gender equality and women’s empowerment among the priorities of his five-year Action Agenda.

His commitment is shared by an increasing number of global decision-makers who understand that this is a time of real opportunity to end gender-based discrimination and place women at the centre of sustainable development.

The theme of this year’s Commission could not be more appropriate.

Rural women and girls constitute one-fourth of the world’s population.

They are leaders and decision-makers, producers and providers, workers and entrepreneurs.

They account for a great proportion of the agricultural labour force, grow the majority of the world’s food and perform the most unpaid care work.

Their contributions are vital to the well-being of families and communities, local and national economies, and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Yet their contributions and priorities have been largely overlooked.

Rural women have been hit hard by the economic and financial crisis, volatile food prices and the impacts of climate change.

They are also disproportionately represented among those facing discrimination and disadvantage.

We must therefore focus greater attention both on protecting and empowering rural women.

Unleashing their potential will make a major contribution to ending poverty and hunger and achieving sustainable development.

I would like to share with you four ways I believe this can be achieved.

First, we must recognize rural women as key agents of change.

Their voices need to be heard, thereby helping to shape responses to development challenges and crises.

Participatory approaches, stakeholder consultations, and support for rural and women’s organizations can help ensure that rural women’s priorities are reflected in macroeconomic policies and rural development and agricultural programmes.

Temporary special measures, such as quotas and benchmarks, can quickly increase rural women’s leadership in national and local governance.

Second, we must accelerate rural women’s economic empowerment.

If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and hunger would decline.

Yet the reality is that rural women and girls have restricted access to land, agricultural inputs, finance, extension services and technology.

Rural women also face more difficulty in gaining access to public services, social protection, employment, and markets.

Unpaid care work further hampers rural women’s ability to take advantage of on- and off-farm employment, as well as, new market opportunities in the agricultural sector.

We must build the asset base of women smallholder farmers, improve their access to resources and services, expand their opportunities to diversify production, increase their productivity, and facilitate their access to high-value product markets.

Third, we must re-examine financing for rural development, agriculture and climate change mitigation and adaptation and we must make sure that it prioritizes rural women and girls.

We need to give greater attention to infrastructure projects, water schemes, renewable energy sources and biodiversity protection.

Only 5 per cent of agricultural extension services go to women farmers.

And only 3 per cent of the official development assistance designated for the agricultural sector in 2008 and 2009 went to programmes in which gender equality was a principal objective, and just 32 per cent to those in which gender equality was a secondary objective.

We must do better.

Fourth, we must acknowledge that ad-hoc interventions are insufficient.

The broader policy environment must be responsive to the rights and needs of rural women and girls instead of sporadic and limited.

Empowering rural women demands systematic and comprehensive strategies.

We need strong action and accountability to advance the rights, opportunities and participation of rural women.

States must abolish discriminatory laws and policies, such as those that limit women’s rights to land, property and inheritance, or that restrict their legal capacity.

This session of the Commission on the Status of Women is an opportunity to solidify consensus among Governments and civil society on those actions needed to make a real difference in the lives of rural women.

Your policy recommendations should feed into other key processes, above all the upcoming Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Commitment at the international level must be followed by comprehensive action on the ground, with effective accountability mechanisms in place – including the watch-dog role of non-governmental and grassroots women’s organizations.

If given the chance, and an equal playing field, rural women can be the life-force that will infuse a sustainable, equitable future for all humankind.