UN Women, FAO, IFAD and WFP Joint Programme: Accelerating Progress toward the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women

Date : 12 September 2012

About the Event | Facts and FiguresStatements
Feature Stories | Photos & Videos | Joint Efforts

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

Background

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.

Related Documents

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.)

Statements

Feature Stories

Binga women in Zimbabwe make history on the Zambezi River
Zimbabwe's first female fishing rig operators are making history, while reclaiming their health, livelihoods and access to the water. Read more »

Lighting up lives: African women train as “barefoot solar engineers
Learn how marginalized illiterate women are being empowered as solar engineers in their communities across the region. Read more»

Rural women in Uzbekistan unite to learn business skills and generate livelihoods
A self-help group model is helping women in Uzbekistan start profitable businesses by giving them access to financial support, and economic training on issues like money management, business planning and credit systems. Read more »

Preserving the balance between business and nature in Mexico
A hotel by indigenous women in Mexico is showing the path to sustainable tourism. Read more »

Timorese farmer : ‘Working like a slave, eating like a king'
For women like Veronica Casimira in Timor- Leste, UN Women-supported self help groups and agricultural trainings give hope and a chance at better lives. She is able to feed her family, have an income and lead by example about what it means to be a woman breadwinner. Read more »

Rural women learn modern irrigation technology in China
As climate change impacts agrarian communities, women are taking on more agricultural responsibilities, but often without being part of the decisions that can improve productivity. One UN Women project in China is training rural women to lead on irrigation, using advanced water-saving technology. Read more »

Cambodia's women beer sellers : Harnessing solidarity to end discrimination
Violence against women is a global pandemic. Between 15 - 76 percent of women are targeted for physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Many initiatives are addressing the issue including an association of Cambodian women beer sellers, working to break taboos and look to a brighter future. Read more »

Photos & Videos

Photos

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.

Galima Muhametarimovna leads a calf to its mother on her small farm Galima Muhametarimovna cleans a bucket before milking one of her four cows in her yard Galima Muhametarimovna collects five to six liters per day of milk Galima Muhametarimovna collects five to six liters per day of milk Galima Muhametarimovna collects five to six liters per day of milk Galima Muhametarimovna collects five to six liters per day of milk Galima Muhametarimovna milks her cows each morning, contributing the milk to a local Milk Collection Center Galima Muhametarimovna and her son prepare the milk they collected from the family cows for a milk collection truck Galima Muhametarimovna and her son strain the milk they collected from the family cows before the arrival of a milk collection truck Galima Muhametarimovna and her son prepare the milk they collected from the family cows to be measured for its fat content A worker from the Ak Zhalga Milk Collection Station in the village of Altymysh, Kyrgyzstan, measures the fat content of milk produced by cows A worker from the Ak Zhalga Milk Collection Station in the village of Altymysh, Kyrgyzstan, measures the fat content of milk produced by cows Galima Muhametarimovna and her family look on as a worker from the Ak Zhalga Milk Collection Station in the village of Altymysh, Kyrgyzstan, records her daily contribution of milk Galima Muhametarimovna prepares to deliver milk A worker from the Ak Zhalga Milk Collection Station in the village of Altymysh, Kyrgyzstan, collects milk

Videos