International Women's Day 2012: Empowering Rural Women To End Hunger And Poverty

Rural Education Challeneges Highlighted On International Women's Day

For those who missed the brightly colored Google Doodle, today is International Women's Day, the day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women and spread awareness of remaining and future challenges.

The day has been observed for more than 100 years, and this 2012 is no exception, with thousands of events happening around the world.

Since the U.N. officially recognized the holiday in 1975, International Women's Day has spread all over the world and even has a specific theme for each year, the National Post reports.

This year’s focus? Empowering rural women to end hunger and poverty.

One of the key ways to tackle this issue is through education, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Rural women and girls face some of the highest rates of educational poverty in the world, according to a UNESCO press release which estimates about 80 percent of the 67 million children not attending school live in rural areas, the majority of whom are girls.

The West African nation of Burkina Faso is a prime example of rural education and gender gap challenges. According to UNESCO data released today, only about 22 percent of the country's rural girls attend primary school, compared to 72 percent of urban girls or 82 percent of urban boys.

North Africa's Morocco is also facing similar challenges. There, rural women still lag behind rural men, with just over half (55%) of rural males and just slightly more than one third of rural women (37%) receiving at least five years of education.

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