UN agen­cies step up on gen­der equal­ity to end hunger and poverty

Em­pow­er­ment of ru­ral women is fun­da­men­tal for achiev­ing 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals

Rural & Marketing - - FOOD SECURITY -

Lead­ers from the three United Na­tions’ Rome-based agen­cies marked In­ter­na­tional Women's Day by re­in­forc­ing their com­mit­ments to step up ef­forts to in­vest in the ca­pac­i­ties of ru­ral women as key agents of change in build­ing a world with­out hunger.

The Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO), the In­ter­na­tional Fund for Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment (IFAD) and the World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) re­minded the world that women and girls play a cru­cial role in achiev­ing the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, the goal of erad­i­cat­ing hunger and ex­treme poverty.

"Women play a crit­i­cal role in agri­cul­ture and food sys­tems - not just as farm­ers, but also as food pro­duc­ers, traders and man­agers," said FAO Direc­tor-Gen­eral José Graziano da Silva on the oc­ca­sion of the Day. "How­ever, women still face ma­jor con­straints in ru­ral labour mar­kets and in agri­cul­tural value chains. They are more likely to be in poorly paid jobs, with­out le­gal or so­cial pro­tec­tion. This lim­its women's ca­pac­ity to ad­vance their skills, earn in­comes and ac­cess em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties."

Graziano da Silva noted that the fu­ture of global food se­cu­rity de­pends on un­leash­ing women's po­ten­tial. "Achiev­ing gen­der equal­ity and em­pow­er­ing women are cru­cial in­gre­di­ents in the fight against ex­treme poverty, hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion which is strongly recog­nised by the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment," he said.

IFAD Pres­i­dent Kanayo F. Nwanze said, "We need to face the fact that we will never over­come poverty and hunger with­out em­pow­er­ing ru­ral women."

He added, "Trans­form­ing gen­der re­la­tions within the fam­ily is also cru­cial to em­pow­er­ing women and en­abling them to make de­ci­sions about their lives."

WFP Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor, Ertharin Cousin said, "Em­pow­er­ing women eco­nom­i­cally is one of the key steps to re­al­is­ing gen­der equal­ity and achiev­ing Zero Hunger."

"En­sur­ing women have ad­e­quate ac­cess to land, tools, fer­tilis­ers and credit im­proves their lives and the lives of their fam­i­lies; po­ten­tially free­ing mil­lions from hunger. En­abling women to seize these op­por­tu­ni­ties will trans­form lives and help bring the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals within reach," she said.

Bridg­ing the gen­der gap

In de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, women make up 45 per­cent of the agri­cul­tural labour force, rang­ing from 20 per­cent in Latin Amer­ica to up to 60 per­cent in parts of Africa and Asia. How­ever, they do sig­nif­i­cantly more un­paid work than men - es­pe­cially in pro­vid­ing care to fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties - lim­it­ing their ca­pac­ity to earn in­comes and ad­vance their skills.

Gen­der-bi­ased so­cial norms, laws and prac­tices can also limit women's ac­cess to es­sen­tial as­sets in­clud­ing nat­u­ral re­sources and ed­u­ca­tion as well as so­cial as­sets such as par­tic­i­pa­tion in ru­ral or­gan­i­sa­tions and other de­ci­sion­mak­ing bod­ies. As a re­sult, their abil­ity to reach their full po­ten­tial and in­flu­ence de­ci­sion-mak­ing in eco­nomic, so­cial and po­lit­i­cal spheres, for ex­am­ple, is se­ri­ously un­der­mined.

Mea­sures that are cru­cial to en­sur­ing ru­ral women's eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment in the chang­ing world of work in­clude im­prov­ing their ac­cess to eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties, pro­duc­tive re­sources, jobs, health ser­vices, so­cial pro­tec­tion and ed­u­ca­tion. Ev­i­dence shows that mal­nu­tri­tion rates fall sig­nif­i­cantly when women have ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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