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Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty

Message of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director, for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2012

Today, on International Women’s Day, UNFPA renews its commitment to gender equality and human rights and dignity.

Many rural women have limited autonomy and low status, which puts them at increased risk of hunger, gender-based violence and other human rights violations. Advancing rural women’s political, social and economic status are vital ends in themselves as well as critical strategies to eradicate poverty, promote women’s rights and pave the way for sustainable development.

Improving access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights is essential for rural women’s empowerment and ability to earn an income and feed themselves and their family. When women can make free and informed choices in all spheres of life, including marriage and number and spacing of their children, they can reach their full potential and further contribute to the development of their communities and nations.

UNFPA works with governments and other development partners to empower rural women and ensure that they can claim their right to sexual and reproductive health. With our partners, we strive to strengthen healthcare systems and develop new ways to inform women and girls about their rights, especially about access to family planning. These efforts save lives and advance human development.

On the International Women’s Day, I call on all stakeholders to join our efforts in promoting women’s health, education and rights. Together, we can improve gender equality and build a world of opportunity where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person can fulfill their potential.