Despite global urbanization, more than half of the world's population, including the overwhelming majority of poor women and men, live in rural areas. Around 56 percent of the population in the less-developed countries and 72 percent of the population in the least-developed countries live in rural areas.

Women play a significant role in rural areas. According to International Labour Organization (ILO) data, in 2008, 35.4 percent of the total number of employed women worked in agriculture. ILO Convention 141 of 1977 and Recommendation 149 of 1975 concerning organizations of rural workers and their role in economic and social development define rural workers as any person engaged in agriculture, handicrafts, or a related occupation in a rural area, whether as a wage earner or as a self-employed ...

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