From a new atlas highlighting educational challenges for women to efforts to empower women journalists, and a partnership with Procter and Gamble for girl's education in Senegal, UNESCO will celebrate the hopes and dreams of women worldwide on International Women's Day on March 8.
"Too often marginalised, women living in rural settings face steep challenges to the exercise of their human rights, their personal development and the pursuit of their aspirations,"the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) quoted Director-General Irina Bokova's remarks on Women's Day in a statement on Friday.
Surveys show that rural households headed by women are among the most vulnerable of the world's 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty in developing countries.
New data to be released on the Women's Day in a free interactive atlas highlight the educational challenges women face worldwide, but especially in rural communities as rural women and girls face some of the highest rates of educational poverty in the world.
UNESCO estimates that about 80 percent of the 67 million children out of school live in rural areas, the majority of whom are girls. Illiteracy rates in rural areas are almost twice as high as in urban areas, and higher still among women.
This holds back progress towards development targets and prevents rural economic growth. Improving education for women and girls in rural areas is a central issue both for achieving gender equality and for poverty eradication, the UN cultural agency said.
The organization's 2012 edition of "Women Make the News", a global initiative aimed at promoting gender equality in the media, will focus on rural women's access to information.
This year, it promotes a knowledge exchange on the importance of policies and good practices undertaken to improve access to media and information in rural communities, especially for rural women.