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Zimbabwe Commemorates International Day of Rural Women

Most nations on Tuesday commemorated the International Day of Rural Women by recognizing the critical role and contribution of rural women in the livelihoods of their families and communities.

The day is being commemorated under the 2013 theme “The Gender Agenda", focusing on rural women gaining momentum and celebrating the achievements of women in various fields.

The day also marks rural women’s resolve for further finding sustainable changes in their communities, enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

Speaking on the day of the rural women, United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon said empowering rural women is crucial for ending issues like hunger and poverty.

"By denying women rights and opportunities, we deny their children and societies a better future. This is why the United Nations recently launched a programme to empower rural women and enhance food security," said Ki Moon.

Rural women in Zimbabwe, like their global counterparts, continue to face numerous challenges despite constituting a large part of the Zimbabwean population.

Glanis Changachirere of the Institute for Young Women Development, said women in rural areas are facing serious challenges that Zimbabwe needs to tackle.

But she says women have to begin by pushing for a voice, to spark the change needed.

"To be able to speak out and demand equality", said Changachirere, "will open up the space where inequality has been seen as the norm."

Women's challenges include gender violence and familial equality, lack of education, and the inability to own property, among other issues.

The first International Day of Rural Women was observed on 1October 15, 2008. This new international day, established by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/136 of December 18, 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.”

According to the UN, rural women play a critical role in the rural economies of both developed and developing countries.

In most parts of the developing world, they participate in crop production and livestock care, provide food, water and fuel for their families, and engage in off-farm activities to diversify their families’ livelihoods. In addition, they carry out vital functions in caring for children, older persons and the sick.