IFAD Asset Request Portlet

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Fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women: Statement on behalf of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

Madam Chairperson,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address the Commission on the Status of Women on behalf of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It is also my privilege to contribute to the discussion of  "Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls".

When we look at the lessons learned from the MDG experience and prepare the Post 2015 agenda, we realize that including the rural dimension will be central if we are to address hunger, poverty and environmental concerns in a meaningful way. More than 70 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas. Many of them live in low-income countries, and in pockets of poverty in middle-income countries. Smallholder farming gives them a lifeline. It is estimated that smallholder farmers – both men and women – support the livelihoods of about 2.5 billion people and feed about 5 billion.

In 2014 we celebrate  the International Year of Family Farming. This is a unique opportunity to promote and recognize – in each country and globally –the contribution that millions of smallholder and family farmers, fishers and pastoralists are making toward  "Feeding the World and Caring for the Earth", in line with the theme of the Year. This is also an opportunity to address the central role that women, young and old, play in family farms. Women farmers are major producers of food. Yet their efforts are often hampered by their lack of access to productive resources, technologies, services and markets.  Women also work off the farm to supplement their income in their efforts to support the family farm and to care for others, at home and in the community.

In line with  IFAD's policy on gender equality and women's empowerment, we plead for greater recognition of the role of rural women, for their economic empowerment, for a stronger voice and influence in rural institutions and organizations, and for a more equitable balance between women and men when it comes to workloads and the sharing of economic and social benefits.

Madam Chairperson,

IFAD is making great strides in reaching out to poor rural women.  Among people receiving services from IFAD-supported projects, the number of women increased from 28 million in 2011 to 37 million in 2012. They now account for almost half of all beneficiaries.

Women continue to dominate training in business and entrepreneurship. The majority of beneficiaries trained in community management are women. The number of women participating in training in crop and livestock production practices and technologies has also increased. And when it comes to rural microfinance services, women account for over 70 per cent of savers and borrowers.   

The growing number of women beneficiaries is a direct result of the increased attention to gender equality and women's empowerment – by IFAD staff and national  staff in programme implementation units. To recognize successes,  IFAD launched a gender award  and honored  best-performing projects in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Sudan and Uganda. 

The Northern Rural Growth Programme in Ghana, for instance,  includes a specific women's crops window for shea butter to enable women to access land and other production resources in developing the value chain.

The Sunamganj Community Based Resource Management Project in Bangladesh is another example. The project established labour-contracting societies to develop infrastructure, which has given women a unique opportunity to earn cash income. Women represent 40 per cent of the members and receive the same wages and benefits as their male colleagues.

Gender-based violence cannot be overlooked. In the Tejaswani Rural Women Empowerment Program in Madhya Pradesh (India), women set up 'Shaurya Dals' – which translates into ‘teams of bravery and  fearlessness'.  The teams are made up of five women and five men who monitor and combat violence against women, which unfortunately is widespread.  This initiative has received so much acclaim that it is now being scaled up to the state level with support of UN Women.

Madam Chairperson,

During this Commission on the Status of Women, we are not only focusing on Sustainable Development Goals, but also start a year-long mobilization for the 20th anniversary and review of the landmark Beijing Platform for Action.    It is our goal is to put rural women and poverty eradication in rural development to the fore as we take stock of the progress made since the Fourth World Conference on Women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) remains the centrepiece.  And we especially welcome the efforts of the CEDAW Committee to develop a General Recommendation on rural women.

In closing, IFAD would like to reiterate its commitment to work with all partners – governments, the UN system, the private sector, and civil society – in order to galvanize  attention, awareness and action toward gender equality and the empowerment of rural women.
Thank you.

10 - 21 March 2014, New York