Towards sustainable development: promoting rural women’s leadership and economic empowerment

Photo/Ives Ives

BAKU, 5 July 2018 –  As countries of the world unwind their potential to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), equal opportunities for women to participate in the economy remain one of the biggest global challenges. Gender equality and empowerment, including through financial autonomy and entrepreneurial maturity, is one of the 17 SDGs, yet women today own only 30% of formal small and medium-sized enterprises, while 70% of these women do not have access to the capital they need to grow, and this disproportion is even higher for women living in rural communities.

In Azerbaijan, where rural women represent 77 percent of the total women population of the country, engrained cultural stereotypes oftentimes reiterate the image of women solely as homemakers, a problem faced in most rural communities of Azerbaijan. While women strive to play a more integrated role in society they frequently struggle to find jobs outside the home. More often than not, the lack of basic literacy skills or access to job vacancy resources only amplifies their challenge, preventing them from exploring opportunities outside of what is traditionally expected.

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