Published on Voices

An Open Letter to Rural Women

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ImageDear Rural Women,

We’ve just celebrated the International Day of Rural Women, which is an occasion for the world to recognize the critical role you play in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.

But we understand that you might not have had time to celebrate.  You are always busy with endless chores-- cooking food for your children and caring for the elderly, fetching water and gathering fire wood.  You also keep many of the farms we rely on for food productive-- by cultivating fields, milking cows and planting crops.
Across developing countries, almost half of you (43%) work in agriculture. In Latin America, 1/5 of all women are farmers. In Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, close to 50% of women work on farms.

You are one of the most important players in advancing global food security. Your work on the world’s farms goes a long way towards feeding the world and lifting the world’s poorest out of the hunger trap.

However, your contributions often go unrecognized. And you don’t have the tools you need to reach your full potential. You still do not have equal access to productive assets such as land, livestock, and extension services, and other opportunities like access to financial services, education, and information and communication technologies that can help you realize your full potential. It is widely known that if you were able to own more land, mobile phones or cows; use your time differently; get a loan; buy new tools and get better advice on how to cultivate more efficiently, your country’s agricultural production could increase by up to 4%. This bump in food production could then reduce the number of hungry people by up to 17%.

This is why we at the World Bank are dedicating resources to helping secure a better future for you, your families and the communities you live in.  We are proud to finance projects that support you. In Tajikistan, for example, more women now have access to their own land - of the 99,002 agricultural land certificates issued, 23% (22,603) were given to female farmers.  In Vietnam, about 50,400 women have been able to get a loan (of the 120,000 borrowers, 42% were women). Finally, in Zambia, entrepreneurial women farmers are getting our support as they establish agricultural enterprises, while in Peru, women’s water groups have been created in water commissions so that women can voice their concerns.

The World Bank is committed to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity by 2030. We know that we will never be able to achieve this goal unless we include and support you. That’s why we’re committed to making a difference in your lives not just on International Rural Women’s Day, but every day of the year.


Victoria Stanley

Senior Land Administration Specialist

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