Celebrating Rural Women & the Climb out of Poverty

This month, we are celebrating two UN observances that are closely aligned with Greenstand’s mission: Rural Women’s Day on October 15th and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17th. Rural women are often the backbone of their societies; helping lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of extreme poverty and into a comfortable, sustainable way of life. Read on to learn more about these two holidays!


October 15th is Rural Women’s Day, a day dedicated to recognizing the critical role and contributions of rural women in mitigating the effects of climate change. Rural households with few resources have to withstand the brunt of the climate crisis, along with rising prices and limited access to market resources. Another significant observance this month is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17th. As wealth inequalities become more stark, more and more humans are pushed to live below the international poverty line. The need of the hour is to address these issues without delay.

Rural Women: The Building Blocks of Society

According to the United Nations’ WomenWatch organization, “Rural women play a key role in supporting their households and communities in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income, and improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being.”

Women account for the vast majority of agricultural workers, including informal workers, and perform a wide range of unpaid care and domestic work for families and households in rural areas. However, despite all the work that rural women undertake, structural barriers and socially discriminatory practices continue to force them to remain marginalized in the global economy. Their plight is further aggravated by global food and economic crises as well as the challenges brought about by climate change. Rural women make a significant contribution to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, natural resource management, and building climate resilience in their communities. Despite a statistical reduction in poverty, 1 billion people worldwide continue to live in extreme poverty, and these populations are predominantly concentrated in rural areas.

Female farmers can and should be core decision makers, as their participation in homes and rural communities is vital. Women and girls in rural areas do not have proper access to goods and social services such as education, health care, and infrastructure including clean water and basic sanitation. Much of their work remains undetected and unpaid, though their burdens are increasing due to large numbers of men leaving their villages to pursue economic opportunity elsewhere. Globally, most indications of gender and development set by the International Labor Organization set by the International Labor Organization for which data are available show that rural women are worse off than rural men and urban women and that they suffer from poverty, marginalization, and the effects of climate change.

Paths to Redress these Issues

International Labor Organization

Following the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, an organization in the United States was formulated to deal with labour issues pertaining to the rights and equity of all in the workforce. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as put forward by the International Labour Organization (ILO), aims to strengthen the rural economy, which has been a focus point of the organization since 1921. Since then the organization has been fruitful in its work raising standards in more than 30 countries that are critical to agricultural and rural development, labor rights, employment, social protection, and social dialogue. In 2008, the ILO’s efforts on rural employment included the adoption of resolutions to promote rural employment in order to reduce poverty, thus authorizing the revitalization of the ILO's involvement in rural development.

Dismay of Poverty

In a world characterized by an unprecedented level of economic development and technological advancement, it is shocking that millions of people are living in extreme poverty. Poverty is not solely an economic issue, but rather a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of both income and the basic tools needed to live in dignity. According to a 2017 World Bank report, 9.2 percent of the global population lives under the international poverty line of US$1.90 per day. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed the decreasing trend in global poverty for the first time in a generation. About 120 million additional people are living in poverty as a result of the pandemic, and that number is expected to rise to about 150 million by the end of 2021. This daunting issue is concerning and must be addressed to ensure that nobody is left behind in the fight against the climate crisis.

Measures to Curb the Pillar of Poverty

Develop and implement policies and programs for rapid and sustainable economic growth

The health, education, nutrition, and sanitation sectors must have definite policies and achievable goals for those in poverty to reach in order to improve their livelihoods. Studies show that a 10 percent increase in India’s average income would reduce poverty there by 20-30 percent.

Improve water management and other natural resources

Most poor people in rural areas depend on agriculture or other natural resources for their livelihood. As a result, they need to be able access to those resources so that they can better manage them and improve their circumstances. 

Invest in and implement agricultural programs

As previously mentioned, in many countries the poorest groups are often dependent on agriculture to make a living. Therefore, governments must increase public investment in agricultural programs to help lift these communities out of poverty. For example, the World Bank has helped 800 million Chinese citizens out of poverty by funding anti-poverty initiatives throughout the country since 1978. As part of its plan to eradicate poverty by 2020, the Agricultural Bank of China will borrow more than US$400 billion to help develop rural areas and finance education, infrastructure, and crop production.

Create and improve access to jobs and profits while developing marketing talent

It is imperative that governments provide all people with access to basic services including education, health care, adequate nutrition, sanitation, shelter and clean water. In addition, the continued development of social protection systems to support those who are unable to support themselves is critical to eradicating poverty. There lies an ardent need to empower people endowed in poverty by involving them in the development and implementation of poverty alleviation structural programs. Rural people know what they need to support themselves and their families, so they should be included in making the policy decisions that will affect their everyday lives.

Remove obstacles to equitable access to resources and services

There is a need to greatly expand the reach of telecommunications and other technology, including internet access, at an affordable price to critical last mile communities.

In Bangladesh, only 40 percent of the rural poor have access to grid electricity. Those who do not have access are forced to tolerate frequent power outages. The Second Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Project plan is working to increase access to electricity in rural areas through renewable energy sources.

Greenstand & the Treetracker

At its core, Greenstand’s mission is to alleviate extreme poverty through reforestation projects while supporting gender equality.

The idea for the Treetracker system was born when our founders were residing in East Africa. They witnessed the economic hardships that rural Africans face each day, as well as the destruction of forests and wetlands to produce petrol. Such unsustainable practices have led to desertification, floods, landslides, and extreme environmental degradation across the African continent. In addition, our founders noticed that it was predominantly women taking on this integral work, as many men left their villages to pursue economic opportunities elsewhere. It was then that the early Greenstand team realized the need for a program that not only encourages people to plant trees, but also allows them to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of extreme poverty by growing trees.

Greenstand develops technology to support tree planting operations of any scale in planting and tracking the growth of trees over time, as well as facilitating payments to tree growers. As of December 2021, more than 1.7 million individual tree photo captures have been certified by the Greenstand team. We support tree planting organizations by providing verification of each tree’s existence, location, and attributes. In addition, we account for tree growers’ efforts so that they can be compensated fairly for their stewardship work.

Our Treetracker platform consists of 4 core components:

  1. The Treetracker mobile app is used by tree growers to take geotagged photos of the trees they plant and care for over time. These photos are uploaded to the cloud where Greenstand verifies and assigns an ecological value.
  2. A Web Map and Admin Panel displays verified trees on a GIS platform. This feature allows planting organizations to confirm placement, ecological appropriateness, and survival of every planted tree while managing profiles of their responsible planters. 
  3. The Impact Wallet enables investors and consumers to buy, sell, and trade Impact Tokens. This element of the technology generates ongoing direct project funding. Impact Tokens are generated from verified tree captures.
  4. The forthcoming Tree Value Matrix defines the payment in terms of relative impact value. The greater the tree’s value, the greater the relative impact value assigned to the respective Impact Token.

With these tools, reforestation efforts can be sustainable and transparent. Trees come with countless benefits to local communities; they provide animal habitats, flood mitigation, enhanced soil health, and of course, sequestration of atmospheric carbon resulting in better air quality. However, these benefits are not truly seen until a tree reaches adulthood. By paying tree growers to care for trees over time, our planting partners provide incentives to ensure that the world can reap the benefits of fully-grown trees. 

Climate change has arrived at our doorsteps, but we know that the most vulnerable communities on our planet, particularly those in developing countries, face the brunt of the climate crisis and will continue to live in peril if we do not take bold, global action. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out our Treetrackers page here or consider supporting the ongoing development of the Treetracker by making a donation today.


Women make major contributions in our society that often go unrecognized, such as unpaid child care, elder care, and domestic workloads. The transition to a more equitable society, with the strength to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, depends on uplifting impoverished rural women. Our world is characterized by an unprecedented level of economic development and technological advancement, but millions of people are still living in extreme poverty. This difficult truth inspires moral outrage and brings about a need for action. Poverty is a multidimensional crisis elevated by economic, social, and environmental issues that requires a multidimensional and inclusive solution. The basic right to live in dignity, with access to basic resources, is a right that should be extended to all people. Policies that aim to alleviate extreme poverty and gender inequality have been established by governments worldwide, but not necessarily executed on the ground. These policies must be acted on and expanded quickly and monitored carefully to ensure real progress is happening. The problem of extreme poverty and gender inequality rural women face must be met with a united front, this problem does not have a simple solution and many minds and bodies will be needed to make lasting changes.

Anusreeta Dutta | Communications Contributor | anusreetadutta.39@gmail.com

Emma Wilson | Communications Contributor | ewilso13@syr.edu