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Lack of gender equality in rural areas the theme during this year’s CSW

This week marks the start of CSW62, the sixty-second session of United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, USA. The theme of this year’s meeting is women and girls in rural areas.

For ten days, representatives from participating countries are meeting to review the progress being made on gender equality, identify challenges and formulate strategies.

NIKK has produced a film that illustrates problems and offers possible solutions based on the Nordic context. This film will be followed by a discussion, organised by the Nordic Council of Ministers, by a panel of experts on the first day of the conference. The purpose of the discussion is to explore possible solutions to the issues facing rural communities, namely women and men moving from rural areas, partly due to the lack of opportunities in education, employment and influence. As part of the film, maps have been produced by the Nordic institution Nordregio that show migration flows, access to jobs, education and care in the Nordic region, and how these affect the rural population.

Among other things, these maps show that it is mostly young people moving from rural areas to cities. This has consequences in terms of welfare, since an ageing population makes welfare difficult to maintain in the long term. This primarily affects women, who take on most of the responsibility of caring for children and the elderly when the public sector falls short. Mothers and children are also affected by the long distances to childbirth centres.

These maps also highlight the fact that it is primarily young women moving to cities. These women often move to cities for their studies due to the lack of educational opportunities closer to home. The dearth of skilled jobs in rural areas also means that more women choose to stay in cities after they finish their degrees. Access to education also affects men living rurally. Where there is access to higher education, more men also pursue higher levels of education.

Possible strategies for getting more people to live in rural areas or to encourage them to move to them include investments in local education institutions, as well as reducing gender segregation in the labour market in order to create more job opportunities.

Updated 10 December 2019