This year’s International Rural Women’s Day (15 October), whose theme was “Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All”, again celebrated women’s essential contribution to food systems across the globe. From the production and processing to the preparation and distribution of food, rural women play a crucial role in combating poverty both in their local communities and around the world.

Structural barriers remain for rural women

The fight against global hunger and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of “Zero Hunger” by 2030 is not possible without the empowerment of rural women. However, a new UN Women’s report, “Beyond Covid-19: A Feminist Plan for Sustainability and Social Justice”, finds that this group faces deep and persistent challenges. Discriminatory laws and restrictive social norms, together with rapidly changing economic, technological, and environmental landscapes, mean that rural women’s potential is often inhibited.
Lower incomes, higher food insecurity, lack of participation in decision-making bodies, and discrimination in relation to land and livestock ownership create significant barriers to the opportunities available to women in rural communities.
According to the International Labor Organization, addressing these areas as well as improving access to resources, vital public services, and markets for their farms, could increase agricultural production by up to 4% and simultaneously reduce malnutrition by over 15% in the some of the world’s poorest regions (equivalent to between 100–150 million people).

Gender equality must become driving force

“Gender Equality” by 2030 is another of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and with good reason: Smallholder agriculture supports the livelihoods of 2.5 billion people and produces nearly 80% of food in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Empowering women – who comprise on average 50% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries – and achieving gender equality can have a vast impact on local economies, land and resource management, food security and nutrition, and the building of climate resilience.
Although the role of rural women in the sustainability and wellbeing of rural communities has been increasingly recognized, recognition must be mirrored in action if rural women are to close the gap with their male and urban counterparts.

Rural women in agriculture: A portrait

Diana Gaglietti is an Argentinian agricultural engineer and one of those empowered women with a role to play in her local agriculture industry. Her interest in developing production schemes integrating product quality and safety as well as environmental care and worker welfare became her passion and her way of life.
Diana has extensive experience in the implementation of quality systems linked to primary production and the food industry, not to mention in the design and delivery of training courses, both for GLOBALG.A.P. and other recognized market standards. She is also an external and internal GLOBALG.A.P. auditor, and is now licensed as a GLOBALG.A.P. Farm Assurer, enabling her to provide her clients with an even better service. But where did it all begin?

A lifetime’s work in the agricultural sector

“It all started in 2002, when I had just graduated as an agricultural engineer a few months earlier,” says Diana. “I had the opportunity to join a certification body as part of a team that was developing the area of food safety certifications, mainly everything related to EurepGAP. That enabled me to become an auditor and trainer, and to learn about the certification processes.
“There were GLOBALG.A.P. [EurepGAP at that time] requirements that were a limiting factor for the certification of production processes of producers in our country, and this made me get involved along with other colleagues in the formation of the National Technical Working Group (NTWG) Argentina, of which I am still a member. Subsequent professional and personal life circumstances led me to leave that position at the certification body to be on the other side of the process, as an implementer and trainer. After almost 20 years I am still working with GLOBALG.A.P. standards in these three areas: Consulting, training, and auditing.”

Focus on the future

Both well-established professionals such as Diana Gaglietti and the frequently overlooked rural women have a part to play in the UN Women’s Feminist Plan for Sustainability and Social Justice. We look forward to seeing how this plan contributes to the progress of all UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For information on how GLOBALG.A.P. contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals, see here.