Rural women play a critical role in agriculture, food security and nutrition, building climate resilience, and managing land and natural resources. But many rural women suffer from discrimination, systemic racism and structural poverty.
The COVID-19 pandemic has now affected more than half the world’s women farmers with restrictions on movement, the closure of shops and markets, and disruption to their supply chains. Combined with challenges including increased unpaid care and domestic work and rising rates of gender-based violence, rural women are bearing some of the heaviest burdens of the pandemic.
Digital channels can offer a lifeline in rural areas, providing information on access to healthcare as well as agricultural updates. However, the gender digital divide is particularly wide for rural women, who make up just a quarter of users of digital agricultural solutions.
Helping rural women through the pandemic and building their resilience for the future will require solidarity and support from all.
Together, we must invest in rural women so that they have access to the healthcare, social protection and agricultural information services they need. We must close the digital divide and provide essential services to respond to the shadow pandemic of violence against women. And we must tackle the discriminatory land and inheritance laws and practices that make rural women vulnerable to losing their sources of income.