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DATE : 18-04-16 15:51
CSW62 ICW Side Event “Transforming the society through empowerment of rural women”
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The International Council of Women organized a side event titled Transforming Society through Empowerment of Rural Women” on the 16th March at the UN Headquarters Conference Room 11. It was generously sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations.


The speakers were H.E. Chull-joo Park, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, Mme. Sizani Ngubane, 2018 UN CSW Woman of Distinction Awardee and Dr. Pam Rajput, Professor of Punjab University/Former Chairperson, Govt. of India, High Level Committee on the Status of Women. President of ICW-CIF Jung-Sook Kim was the moderator.

Jung-Sook Kim after welcoming the speakers talked about the empowerment of women and girls from rural areas stressing that none of them should be left behind the opportunity for education and skill-based training. She said that empowering rural women is not only the key to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities but also to overall economic productivity. Rural women and girls make up over a quarter of the world population and 78% of the world population is poor and lives in rural areas so rural women and girls suffer   disproportionately from poverty. She said that rural women and girls make their significant place in global food security and nutrition, health and wealth of their families as well as water and resource management. Yet, they have been left behind in the global progress of the gender equality. Jung-sook Kim said that due to social and cultural traditions rural women are paid less and they have less opportunity to complete their education, they face early marriage with the consequences of reproductive health and have better chance to face gender-based violence.


H.E. Chull-joo Park, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, started his speech stating that the Korean government attaches great importance to empowering women in every respect. He said that it is worth noting that when more income is put into the hand of the rural women, health, nutrition and education also improved. He said that Korean government takes measures to empower women and gives certain attention to women farmers. Women make 43% agricultural work force and they own less than 20% of the land. They are subject to physical and sexual violence and marginalized and have no full access to education and information. Korean government took some measures to support women farmers for their capacity building and economic opportunities. The government also gives training opportunities to rural women. At the same time local offices give counseling services for rural women and improve their access to social services. To improve women’s representation in decison making, the Ambassador said, they established a quota to improve women’s participation. He also emphasized the need to support women in the fishing industry as well as women farmers who always are important members of the community.


The next speaker was Mme Gertrude Mongella from Tanzania, Member of Parliament and President of Pan African Parliament Minister of State, High Commissioner to India, Secretary General for 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, UN  Under-Secretary to the SG on Women’s Issues and Development, talked about Tanzania, independent since 1961, and said that her country did nothing for rural women who do not have access to modern technology despite their working hard and receiving poor pay. She stated that she expected status quo over the  imbalance between men and women to be eradicated from this planet. Mme Mongella, with a world of experience ranging from national to international, said that she is concerned about the digital life which has become more and more visible and in regards to it she gave the example of Korea: she said when Tanzania became independent in 1961, Tanzania and Korea were at the same level. While those things were left in the museums in Korea, Tanzania remained as it was in those years. She asked when in rural areas of Asia and Africa the women would come up with that technology.  In Tanzania they are still at the ABC of reading and her concern was if they would ever be able to cope with the technology and will manage it. Rural women should catch up with the technological innovations and evolution to be of the same level otherwise women will be obsolete in this planet. She underlined the concept that women are not invitees in this planet they belong to this planet, they own it and the audience showed its appreciation to this statement with a big applause.


H.E. Minister Mme. Mervat Tallawy from Egypt briefly spoke about the wage disparity and women’s being paid poorly. She complained about no recognition of domestic work. If we give her awareness, equipment, finance, the productivity of the agricultural area would double and as a consequence we would not need to import food, she explained. Everyone should consider women as part of any plan because they work very hard and are essential for the agricultural world. She said rural women should not be off the side, they are unpaid, unrecognized and unregistered but still working for their family and their society.


Mme Sizani Ngubane, 2018 UN CSW Woman of Distinction Awardee and Founder of South African Rural Women’s Movement, was introduced by Jung-Sook Kim as “champion of rural women’s rights”. She dedicated her life to struggle for women and girls’ property rights. So many women are suffering from chronic diseases and unemployment which in many areas it is as high as 80%. Mme Ngubane divided her available time between working with 50.000 women in disadvantaged areas to improve their livelihood. African Rural Women’s Movement is tackling issues on rural women’s rights, property and inheritance. Rural women are facing problems like forced marriages. She spoke about the treatment of widows, how they are forced to marry the brother of the deceased husband. If she refuses to marry him, Mme Ngubane explained, she loses the custody of her children and her children lose their rights to inheritance. The land ownership remains another issue as women are denied the right to inherit property even if it is legally theirs. She explained that the rape of women is high and it occurs in public with nobody coming to the aid of the victim. Now, she said, some village courts have female magistrates who give support to women and girls. Once women could not bring any case to the traditional court, she could not talk about the challenges in her marital or in her natal home.


The next speaker was Dr. Pam Rajput, Professor of Punjab University/Former Chairperson, Govt. of IndiaHigh Level Committee on the Status of Women. In her speech she said that the villages are the roots of a nation, if the roots are strong so the nation is strong, if the women are strong the villages will be strong and so the nation itself too. In India 70% of the population lives in villages. She reminded that in 1993 the Constitution was amended in favour of women. Dr. Rajput, Indian academic turned internationally renowned activist, has been engaged in the women's movement since the mid-70s both in Indiaand internationally. She explained how women are totally deprived from their basic rights. She said rural women are real leaders and leaders of change. India has 1.25 billion population and Indians usually live in villages. Rural women and their organizations represent an enormous potential for the country. She also stressed the importance of digital literacy for village women. She said each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women. Rural women also have limited access to health care and education. Rural women constitute one-fourth of the world's population. She concluded by saying that they are leaders, producers, entrepreneurs and service providers and their contributions are vital to the well-being of families, communities and economies.


Before the floordiscussion took place Jung-Sook Kim introduced Hon. Emerine Kabanshi, Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare of the Republic of Zambia. Hon. Kabanshi thanked for the opportunity given to share with the participants what the Zambian government is doing on enquiring women who are the agent of change. She said Zambiais an African country where the rural area population is very high. Zambia’s population is 18 million people and 51% of the population are women. The government is implementing many social programs in favor of women because it wants women to participate at the economic progress of the country.


Jung-Sook Kim, at the conclusion, said that this event we shared put significant light on the state of rural women in many parts of the world and that she hopes we shall come up with concrete ideas and strategies to make a difference in the lives of millions of rural women for this important issue.



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