Gender equality is one of Switzerland’s foreign policy priorities. Increasing women’s political and economic independence and combating all forms of violence against women and girls are core elements of the FDFA’s strategy on gender equality and women's rights. In its international cooperation efforts, Switzerland is also committed to empowering women living in rural areas. Because of the major contribution they make to agricultural production and the rural economy, these women play a key role in poverty reduction and food security. “As part of its development cooperation work, Switzerland views equal access to land and natural resources as an essential step towards gender equality,” FDFA Secretary General Markus Seiler underlined in Switzerland’s official statement.
In many countries, the right of women to own and use land is limited and they have few opportunities to utilise new technologies, agricultural skills development and financial services. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is working in several priority countries to strengthen the rights of rural women and help them gain equal access to land and natural resources, technical know-how and financial services, so that they can make their farming products more professional and marketable.
“In Switzerland, women farmers’ role is important both socially and economically,” says Sylvie Durrer, head of the FOGE. According to Durrer, around 37% of Switzerland’s agricultural sector is made up of women. They have diverse tasks such as looking after the farming household and operations, bringing up the children, caring responsibilities and professional activities not related to the farm. That is why both the Swiss government and interest groups are aiming to raise awareness at various levels about the importance of rural women and the special challenges they face, particularly in terms of legal status and social security.
The role of rural women was already the main theme of the CSW in 2012. Because of the continuing global challenges in this area, it has been kept at the top of the agenda. At this year’s session, Switzerland will advocate for the following priorities: political participation and representation of women, equal land access rights, financial inclusion as a means to economic independence, and the recognition of unpaid care and domestic work. In addition to the FDFA and the FOGE, the delegation also includes the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and a civil society representative, the co-director of the Swiss Farmers and Rural Women Association (SBLV) Kathrin Bieri.
The CSW is the UN's central body responsible for gender equality. As in previous years, the official delegations are set to be joined at this year’s CSW session by over 8,000 NGO representatives. There will also be more than 450 side events complementing the official two-week programme.
CSW62 UN Women
FDFA strategy on gender equality and women's rights
Women’s Human Rights App
SDC – Gender equality
Federal Office for Gender Equality
Women in farming FOAG (de, fr, it)
Federal Office for Gender Equality twitter account
Switzerland at the UN twitter account
Web Article, 16.03.2018: Switzerland highlights the importance of the political and economic participation of rural women and their land rights
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