For International Women’s Day, Thursday 8 March 2012

GENEVA (8 March 2012) – On International Women’s Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, calls on States to promote, in particular, the social, cultural, and economic rights of rural women:

“Violence against women results from a complex interplay of individual, family, community and social factors. I have emphasised the need for a holistic approach that does not treat all women homogenously, but recognizes that discrimination and violence affect women in different ways depending on how they are positioned within different social, economic and cultural contexts.

In my numerous country visits I have witnessed first-hand the multiple forms of discrimination and inequality that rural women experience. Rural women are discriminated against in accessing assets and resources, and, they are more likely to be involved in unpaid family related work or in low paid work. They are also at higher risk of being subjected to violence, with far less access to remedies and redress for the human rights violations they suffer. Furthermore, economic and financial crises, like those that the world is currently experiencing, tend to exacerbate the multiplicity of discriminatory practices that rural women have to face.

The realization of economic and social rights for rural women, increased and equal access to assets and resources, including equal inheritance rights, is a necessary step to sever the dependence of women on their spouses and families. Legal and policy environments which are responsive and promote independence and empowerment of women, is also essential for women to seek remedies for violations of rights.

I call upon States and other stakeholders to step up efforts aimed at empowering women, particularly rural women. The active participation of women in development and poverty reduction programmes is an issue of utmost importance to tackle and eliminate the structural causes of violence against women.”

Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three year. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Manjoo is also a Professor at the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town.

Learn about the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, please visit:

Check the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women: 
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For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit ( 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected])

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