Rural women make up a quarter of the world’s population. They grow much of our food, strengthen economies and build climate resilience.

From championing access to clean water in Kyrgyzstan to boosting sustainable agriculture in Ethiopia, rural women are mobilising to support one another, and their contributions are vital for both rural communities and urban societies.

Yet, on almost every measure of development, because of gender inequalities and discrimination, they fare worse than rural men or urban women.

On 15 October, the United Nations commemorates the International Day of Rural Women, under the theme, “Sustainable infrastructure, services and social protection for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”, closely followed by World Food Day (16 October) and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October).

This year, we are calling for better public services, including health care, education, childcare and shelters, on which millions of rural women depend; and laws, policies and budgets to improve their livelihoods and well-being. We stand in solidarity with rural women and their organisations everywhere as they seek to influence the decisions that shape their lives.

Top stories

Women of Puente Viejo, a small indigenous community across the Polochic and Malazas rivers, pose for a photo. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Guatemala: Saving for a rainy day

A woman sells handicrafts at a local market. Photo: UN Women/Sarika Chand

Samoa: We are equal, we are important, say nofotane women

Kamso Bame is a member of the women's cooperative in her village. Photo: UN Women/Fikerte Abebe

Ethiopia: Women’s cooperatives boost agriculture and savings

Erlan and his teammates with Ms. Roza Shamaeva, the head of the rural council. Photo: Un Women/Dildora Khamidova

Kyrgyzstan: Youth champion gender equality and access to clean water


Infographic: Rural Women and Girls

Learn the facts: Rural women and girls

Rural women ensure food security for their communities, build climate resilience and strengthen economies. Yet, gender inequalities, such as discriminatory laws and social norms, combined with a fast-changing economic, technological and environmental landscape restrict their full potential, leaving them far behind men and their urban counterparts. View infographic ►


Rural women—agents of change fighting poverty, hunger and climate change


Social media

  • The global movement for women’s rights must not leave rural women behind. Let International Day of Rural Women be an opportunity to join us in supporting ALL women in claiming their rights!
  • Spread the message using #ruralwomen. A social media package with images and messages in English, Spanish and French is available here