02.03.2012 - UNESCOPRESS

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2012: UNESCO’s efforts for rural women

©UNphoto / Alfbert Gonzalez FarranKaltoum Adam Imam with one of her five children collects millet in a land rented by a community leader in Saluma Area, near El Fasher (North Darfur)

“Too often marginalised, women living in rural settings face steep challenges to the exercise of their human rights, their personal development and the pursuit of their aspirations.” – Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova on Women’s Day 2012.

Rural households headed by women are among the most vulnerable of the world’s 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty in developing countries.  Women and girls constitute 60 percent of people suffering from chronic hunger worldwide. From a new atlas highlighting educational challenges for women, to efforts to empower women journalists, and a partnership with Procter and Gamble for girl’s education in Senegal, UNESCO will celebrate the hopes and dreams of women worldwide on International Women’s Day this March 8th

New data to be released this Women’s Day in a free interactive atlas highlight the educational challenges women face worldwide, but especially in rural communities. In Burkina Faso, for example, only about 22% of rural girls attend primary school compared to 72% of urban girls or 82% of urban boys. And in Morocco, although in recent years the gender gap has been closing, rural women still lag behind rural men with just over half (55%) of rural males and only a little over a third of rural women (37%) receiving at least 5 years of education.

Rural women and girls face some of the highest rates of educational poverty in the world. UNESCO estimates that about 80 percent of the 67 million children out of school live in rural areas, the majority of whom are girls. Young girls from poor rural households are the least likely of any social group to be in school or to ever gain access to education. Illiteracy rates in rural areas are almost twice as high as in urban areas, and higher still among women. This holds back progress towards development targets and prevents rural economic growth. Improving education for women and girls in rural areas is a central issue both for achieving gender equality and for poverty eradication.

The 2012 edition of “Women Make the News”, a global initiative aimed at promoting gender equality in the media, will focus on rural women’s access to information. This year, it promotes a knowledge exchange on the importance of policies and good practices undertaken to improve access to media and information in rural communities, especially for rural women.

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