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Commission on Status of Women Focuses on Empowerment of Rural Women and Role in Sustainable Development

CSW5627 February 2012: The 56th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) opened on 27 February, focusing on the theme of empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, and sustainable development.

The session, which is taking place from 27 February-9 March 2012 at UN Headquarters in New York, US, is a platform for stakeholders to share experiences and good practices, analyze gaps and challenges, and agree on priority actions to accelerate the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the achievement of gender equality. It will be structured around a general discussion addressed by Member States, two high-level round tables and six panel discussions. The session is expected to agree on recommendations needed to make a difference in the lives of rural women, which will also inform the discussions at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The opening ceremony was attended by: the President of the Economic and Social Council, Miloš Koterec; Deputy Director-General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization Ann Tutwiler; and Elisabeth Atangana from Cameroon, a farmer and leader of rural cooperatives. UN Deputy-Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and UN-Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet delivered opening statements. In her opening statement, Migiro highlighted that rural women can be at the center of sustainable development and an equitable future for humankind, if an end is brought to gender-based discrimination. She noted that rural women and girls constitute one-fourth of the world's population and that they: account for a large proportion of the agricultural labor force; grow the majority of the world's food; and perform the most unpaid care work. Noting that women are often disadvantaged, she stressed that to address this, there is a need to re-examine financing for rural development, agriculture and climate change mitigation and adaptation, with priority being given to rural women and girls. She added that greater attention should be given to infrastructure projects, water schemes, renewable energy sources and biodiversity protection.

Bachelet stressed that women's empowerment requires a shift in national budget planning, law and policy making, as well as a change in how businesses operate, in order to remove the barriers to women's participation. She noted that rural women are on the frontline of climate change, as they are the managers of natural resources. Bachelet announced that, on the eve of Rio+20, UN Women and the Government of Brazil will jointly convene a high-level meeting on women and sustainable development. [Statement by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro] [Statement by UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet] [Meeting Website]