Press release, 16.03.2018

On the margins of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the Director of the Federal Office for Gender Equality, Sylvie Durrer, opened a panel discussion yesterday, organised by Switzerland together with South Africa, Egypt, New Zealand, the Philippines, Zambia, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Huairou Commission, on Participation of rural women in governance: Challenges and opportunities.

Eight woman from different countries sit around a table and discuss.
Panel discussion on how to better involve women in decision-making processes at the Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. © FDFA

Strengthening gender equality and the rights of women and girls is one of the seven strategic goals that Switzerland pursues in its international cooperation. In the implementation of this strategy, Switzerland is also committed at the multilateral level to the social and economic promotion and strengthening of women and girls in rural areas.

Women in rural areas account for about a quarter of the world's population. They have an important social function within their communities and play a central role in agricultural production processes. However, they are significantly under-represented in political decision-making bodies as well as in leading positions in agricultural organisations. In her opening speech, Durrer therefore underlined the importance of full access for women to such bodies. She went on to say that it is also key "that women are able to play an active role in shaping decisions in such bodies and that social structures that are an obstacle to participation must be overcome". Durrer also stressed that it has been shown that better rights of land ownership and use of natural resources for women have a positive effect on their position within the household, which in turn has a positive impact on their status in the community and increases the chances of taking a leading role in politics and the economy.

Today, another event co-organised by Switzerland is taking place to highlight the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with regard to the safeguarding of women's land rights. Together with Zambia and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a panel discussion will discuss the importance of women's land ownership and user rights in ending poverty (SDG 1) and achieving food security (SDG 2). The event, which will take place in the presence of Zambian Vice-President Inonge Mutukwa Wina, is intended to promote dialogue between governments, development organisations and civil society in order to make joint progress in this area.

Further information:

Media release, 12.03.2018: Swiss delegation attends session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

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