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Rural women on the front lines of ensuring climate stability

 

Appreciating the important role of rural women and their contribution to agricultural development, food security and poverty alleviation, the UN has declared October 15th as International Day of Rural Women in its official calendar. This year’s theme is in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals and concerns the role of rural women in climate change. The day goes by under the heading “Women in the Village Ensure Climate Sustainability”, which is a logical continuation of the discussions held at the United Nations Headquarters on September 23th at the Climate Change Summit.

 

According to the UN, rural women make up one third of the world’s population. In developing countries, where agriculture accounts for 32% of GDP, about 80% of economically active women are engaged in agriculture and food production. It is no coincidence that in the days immediately following that day, the UN celebrates two more years: the World Food Day on October 16th and the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty on October 17th. This emphasizes the particular role of rural women in the elimination of hunger and poverty and in ensuring food security. Rural women are at the forefront of tackling climate change disasters.

 

In the Republic of Armenia, agriculture is the largest employment sector, with about 34% of employed people. 53% of them are women, which makes women more important participants in agricultural development. At the same time, men account for 31% of agriculture and 37% for women. In fact, most agricultural products are made by women, and they are the main guarantors of food supply and survival of rural households.

 

At the same time, women’s employment in the agricultural sector is largely informal, giving rise to the characterization of women as the lowest paid and socially unprotected segment of the labor market. According to the Census of Agriculture, 25% of rural households are headed by women. Female-headed households are most vulnerable due to lack of agricultural machinery, poor access to land, irrigation opportunities and financial resources.

 

Rural women are most vulnerable in terms of access to resources and loans, land ownership, irrigation and water supply, equipment use, product sales, transportation and other infrastructures.

 

31.3% of the republic’s labor resources are occupied in agriculture, of which 53% are women, making them an important participant in agricultural development.

 

In the case of informal (unregistered) employment, most women in the village are deprived of social guarantees.

 

In rural areas, 27.3% of households are headed by women (34% in the country), with their per capita incomes almost twice as low as those of men-led households and lower in their living standards.

 

Female-headed households are most vulnerable due to lack of agricultural machinery, poor access to land, irrigation opportunities and financial resources.

 

Women are hardly involved in making decisions about their communities, depriving them of the opportunity to express their interests.

 

So far, the percentage of women in municipal elections has fallen by 2-3 times in all major community elections. As a result, only 9 out of 453 rural communities are headed by women (1.6%), and women constitute only 9.3% of the council members.

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