United Nations, Mar 13 (PTI) UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak hailed efforts by an Indian woman entrepreneur to help women farmers in India, lauding her innovative ideas to empower women.

Addressing the world body’s largest gathering on gender equality and women’s right, he cited the example of Sunita Kashyap, founder of an organisation named Umang.

“Rural women act as a major source of innovation, and ideas. Take, for example, a woman named Sunita Kashyap. Her organisation supports 3000 women farmers in India to grow and sell their own crops,” Lajcak said in his address at the opening of the 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) here yesterday.

According to Kashyap’s profile on UN Women website, she is the secretary and founder of Mahila Umang Producers Company (Umang), an organisation run by rural women in the districts of Almora and Ranikhet, in Uttarakhand.

Locally owned by women farmers and producers, Umang sells knitwear and organic jams and jellies. In addition to selling the produce, Umang supports its members through micro-credit, used for education of family members, improvement of livestock, or other household needs.

He also cited the example of Mariama Mamane, a young woman from Nairobi who has developed an eco-solution to improve the availability of irrigation and drinking water, while also producing energy.

“These kinds of women do not need our help, in finding solutions. What they need is our support, in turning their ideas into reality. This support is not just critical; it is smart. Because it will allow us all to see progress, across the board from agriculture and education, to the rule of law and peace,” he added.

The CSW, which will run through March 23, is the UN’s largest gathering on gender equality and women’s rights, and the single largest forum for UN Member States, civil society organisations and other international actors to build consensus and commitment on policy actions on this issue.

The session will focus on the priority theme of “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”.

Lajcak said empowerment of rural women will result in opportunities for all. He noted that while the international community has tried to tackle challenges, it has not addressed their gender dimensions.

“This has had a particularly damaging effect on rural women. It needs to stop. We need to take women into account, in everything we do. Particularly when it comes to rural communities,” he added.

He stressed that there cannot be just talk about effects of poverty and unemployment on rural communities without addressing the question of pay gap, which can be as high as 40 per cent between rural women and men.

“The reality is that rural women are not always on our television screens. They do not always make it into our headlines. They are not always in these conferences rooms. And they do not always have hashtags, or campaigns, launched in their names,” he said.

“That is why we need a platform, like this one, to shine a spotlight on the challenges they face,” he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.