56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Right now, the 56h session of the Commission on the Status of women is taking place at UN headquarters in New York. The session theme is rural women. The session will last until March 9th, and it will end with a series of concrete recommendations to governments and civil society.

According to the Commission, rural women make up a quarter of the world’s population. They produce the majority of the world’s food, and perform most unpaid care work in rural areas. They also state that “If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and there would be 100 million to 150 million fewer hungry people.”

Those are big claims, and it’s certainly clear that women play an important role in rural life, a role that I undervalued and under-supported. One wonders, though, how policy recommendations on rural women would differ from policy on supporting urban women. Wouldn’t the gender equality agenda be similar for women in both locations? It is certainly true that women also make up a large proportion of the urban work force, and perform the majority of unpaid care work in urban areas. Access to credit, property ownership, and access to public services also seem to be universal issues for women, no matter where they are located.

I look forward to the Commissions’ report and recommendations, which will be submitted to Ecosoc and made publicly available shortly after the end of the session.