Why I think Women Standing up for Women is Important | International Women’s Day

By Caroline Kolins, World Vision’s HungerFree

March 8 represents International Women’s Day, a day that has been designated by the UN to focus on women! As a young American woman I am always inspired by the women’s rights activists that fought so hard for our right to vote. However, for many women across the globe, basic human rights are only a dream. That is why I think it’s so important to remember our fellow women across the developing world. We must also fight for their rights.

One particular group of women very dear to my heart is the impoverished rural women who work in agriculture across the developing world. In fact, I keep a large photo of four Congolese women on their small plot of land on my desk to remind myself of the women that I am working for. These women are the most life giving, inspiring and hardworking women I’ve ever met.

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Women make up 43% of the agriculture labor force, but in many countries they are not legally allowed to own the land. They do the backbreaking work of being a smallholder farmer with babies on their backs; very few, if any, land tenure rights, and have no access to high quality ag inputs or ag extension. Despite all the challenges, these women somehow manage to care for their entire families. My to do list always seems less important when I remember the Congolese women in the photo on my desk.

Investing in women is one of the smartest investments across the developing world. Women multiply the impact of an investment by using the investment to better their families and communities. For instance, women are more likely to use their financial resources to pay school fees for their children and put food on the table. Women in the developing world are most certainly part of the solution to many of the development challenges these countries face. According to UN FAO, if women in rural areas had the same access to land, technology, financial services and markets as their male counterparts, agricultural production could be increased and the number of hungry people reduced by 100-150 million!

Widow Rosemary Keloetho (age 45) who cares for orphans, weeds her nursery of vegetable seedlings, which she will plant for food and to earn money to feed her family. She also successfully raises and sells pigs. See related stories in WVUS Magazine Autumn 2008. Africa digital color horizontal

Rural, poor women could be responsible for reducing a significant portion of world hunger, if they had access to the right things. This is the only fuel I need to keep my passion for developing world women at the forefront of my career. What fuels your passion for equality?

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