UN Women, FAO, IFAD and WFP Joint Programme: Accelerating Progress toward the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women
Date: 12 September 2012
About the Event
When: 27 September 2012, 1:00 PM to 2:45 PM
Where: The Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, The Riverview Room, 28th floor, New York
Key contributors to global economies, rural women play a critical role in both developed and developing nations — they enhance agricultural and rural development, improve food security and can help reduce poverty levels in their communities. In some parts of the world, women represent 70 percent of the agricultural workforce, comprising 43 percent of agricultural workers worldwide.
Gender inequality and limited access to credit, healthcare and education, however, have posed a number of challenges for rural women. Further, the global food and economic crisis and climate change have only aggravated the situation. It is estimated, for instance, that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls.
The recent Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development reiterated ‘the importance of empowering rural women as critical agents for enhancing agricultural and rural development, and food security and nutrition'. It reaffirmed the central role of women in ensuring food and nutrition security, and the need to build partnerships for empowering women to be the drivers of the shift to sustainable development.
UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), have agreed to spearhead a more comprehensive UN system response in support of rural women's economic empowerment through joint actions. “Accelerating Progress toward the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women is a 5-year joint programme that will be implemented in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda. It aims to:
Scale up investment in food and nutrition security in rural areas.
If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and there would be 100 to 150 million fewer hungry people;
- Build systems and institutions that can deliver the range of financial services rural women need, and that can link them to remunerative and sustainable markets. Rural women are talented entrepreneurs, but they often lack access to markets due to inappropriate scales and or standards of production, as well as context-specific gender roles and norms.
- Expand both economic empowerment and political participation of rural women. It is urgent to strengthen rural women's self-confidence and capacity to take on leadership roles at all levels, while working with men to champion and support change through removing gender-discriminatory norms and attitudes.
- Make economic growth inclusive and meaningful for hunger eradication and sustainable development, there is a need to catalyze policy, legal, budgetary and land reforms in support of rural women.
Facts & Figures
- Gender inequality is a major cause and effect of hunger and poverty: it is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls (Gender Policy and Strategy, WFP);
- Countries with the highest levels of hunger also have very high levels of gender inequality (The Challenge of Hunger: Focus on Financial Crisis and Gender Inequality, 2009 Global Hunger Index IFPRI Issue Brief 62.);
- Estimates suggest that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30 percent, lifting 100-150 million out of hunger. The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development, Rome, FAO, 2011);
- Equal access to resources will raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5-4 percent, thereby contributing to both food security and economic growth. The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development', Rome, FAO 2011);
- Women constitute half of the agricultural labour force in least developed countries (The Role of Women in Agriculture, FAO);
- For those developing countries for which data are available, only between 10 and 20 percent of all land holders are women FAO (2011). (The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development', Rome);
- The share of female smallholder farmers who can access credit is 5-10 percentage points lower than for male smallholders. (The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development, Rome, FAO2011);
- In rural sub-Saharan Africa, women in smallholder agriculture access less than 10 percent of available credit (UN (2011). Report of the Secretary-General on Ten-year appraisal and review of the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010, A/66/66.)
- Michelle Bachelet Remarks at launch of the Joint Programme on Rural Women with Rome-based agencies (27 September 2012)
- Remarks by H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at launch of the Joint Global Program on Economic Empowerment for Rural Women (27 September 2012)
- A Comprehensive Response to Rural Women and Girls' Economic Empowerment (by Michelle Bachelet, 28 February 2012)
- Introductory Statement by Ms. Michelle Bachelet at the 56th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (27 February 2012)
- Rural Women and Sustainable Development (by Michelle Bachelet, 27 February 2012)
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Photos & Videos
A Day in the Life of a Rural Woman Milk Collector (Kyrgyzstan)
This photo album takes you on a journey of a woman from Kyrgyzstan's Kemin district, who milks cows for a living. Before UN Women provided a grant to open a milk collection point in her district, she earned between 11 to 15 US cents per liter of milk. Today she earns 29 US cents per liter, boosting her family's income and food security.