International Day of Rural Women 2020: Building resilience and gender equity in the face of COVID-19

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“We do not want charity, we just need support so that we can stand up on our feet again.”—SEWA group member, India.

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested virtually everyone in some way—but especially the strength and resilience of women in the world’s rural areas. To mark the 2020 International Day of Rural Women (Oct. 15), here we explore some of the burdens the pandemic has imposed on rural women and potential ways to lighten them.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) defines resilience as “the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth.” Numerous studies show that women and men experience shocks differently and have different capabilities in responding to them. For instance, evidence from Uganda indicates that a rise in food prices negatively affected assets held by women or jointly. Women generally have limited access to financial services and information, and lower levels of mobility and literacy compared to men, which constrains their ability to rebuild after a shock.

In this respect, COVID-19 is no different from other disasters.

Photo credit: Kalyani Raghunathan

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