International Day of Rural Women

Today, October 15th, is recognized by the United Nations as International Day of Rural Women. According to the United Nations, “Rural women, the majority of whom depend on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods, make up over a quarter of the total world population. In developing countries, rural women represent approximately 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force, and produce, process and prepare much of the food available, thereby giving them primary responsibility for food security.” The majority of the entrepreneurs that Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) works with through the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) program live in villages and rural communities surrounding Northern Palestine in Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, and Tubas. Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) is TYO’s fifth entrepreneurship program that seeks to help women in Northern Palestine establish or expand their micro-businesses.  Many of the women TYO works with boast micro-businesses in the agricultural sector and have families that find themselves in increasingly dire economic circumstances. This is one of many reasons why women in rural Palestine seek to expand and refine their micro businesses.

Former TYO entrepreneur, Aya, at work on her sheep farm in Beit Furuk village.

Women in neighboring Egypt might also have similar opportunities as their Palestinian counterparts. In a 12 October 2015 article published by the International Business Times, Elsa Buchanan announced a partnership between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), the country's largest commercial bank. According to Buchanan, "the partnership will help set up a Women in Business programme with the aim of strengthening the role of female entrepreneurs in the Egyptian economy."  "The new programme will provide a package of financial and technical support for Egyptian women who are either starting up or expanding their companies. Support will include tailored advice and training with a particular focus on agribusiness."

Additionally, countless people living in rural areas in the Middle East and throughout the world are forced to relocate to urban centers due to the lack of economic opportunities in their communities. However, there are still a plethora of people living in rural areas throughout the world who seek to maintain a living and generate profit in their towns and villages. It is important to highlight the struggles, daily realities, and resilience of rural women in Palestine and throughout the world and the International Day of Rural Women is one of many ways to go about doing so. TYO is proud to work alongside rural women throughout Northern Palestine through our entrepreneurship program as whether rural or urban, women still hold up half the sky.

Vanessa, Women's Empowerment Program Coordinator