Google handily reminds us that today is International Women’s Day, a date with more than a hundred years of history behind it, from American socialist protest in 1909, to Europe in 1911; when the holiday was an attempt to bring awareness to the lack of equal rights (including suffrage, the right to hold public office, and the right to not be discriminated against in the workforce because of gender). The Soviet Union made it an official holiday, and in 1965 even made it a holiday from work, too. 1977, however is when the modern International Women’s Day, yearly sponsored by the United Nations, really took off. Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon has declared the focus of this year’s IDW to be on rural women, “make up one quarter of the global population, yet routinely figure at the bottom of every economic, social and political indicator, from income and education to health to participation in decision-making.”
If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise by 4%, strengthening food and nutrition security and relieving as many as 150 million people from hunger. Rural women, if given the chance, could also help end the hidden development tragedy of stunting, which affects almost 200 million children worldwide.
Discriminatory laws and practices affect not just women but entire communities and nations. Countries where women lack land ownership rights or access to credit have significantly more malnourished children. It makes no sense that women farmers receive only 5 per cent of agricultural extension services. Investing in rural women is a smart investment in a nation’s development.
All we’re really prepared to offer at the Mary Sue is a funny video or an article or two, but there are plenty of other organizations that can do better than us. Oxfam, the send-a-goat-for-Christmas people, has plenty of ways to help out the women in rural communities around the world, and we’d also reccomend Kiva, a microloan service that allows people all over to help out the smallest of small business owners with small, life changing loans.
Oh, all right, here’s the funny video:
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