Skip to Content
X

Empowering rural women and their communities

Women are major contributors to agriculture and rural economies, but face numerous challenges that men do not. They have less access to resources and services, including land, finance, training, inputs and equipment. In addition to their agricultural work, they are overburdened with domestic chores and caring tasks. 

Despite being productive members of their families, organizations and communities, rural women are not always able to raise their voices and contribute to decisions about household and community issues, money or business – including how their own income is spent. 

Throughout their lives, rural women face barriers to full mobility and political participation. It starts early, with girls less likely than boys to receive the schooling and support they need. 

Many written laws still discriminate on the basis of gender, and traditions and patriarchal norms continue to perpetuate gender inequality. As a result, women’s rights, movement, autonomy and access to opportunities and resources are restricted. 

In communities that rely largely on agriculture for their food and income, gender inequality translates into a large gender gap in agricultural productivity, for which countries pay a high price. In Uganda, for example, the cost of the gender gap in the country’s agriculture sector is estimated at US$67 million per year. 

Building a more inclusive economy

Promoting gender equality is a key element of IFAD’s work to reduce rural poverty and improve food security. Women make up about half of all participants of the projects we support. When women are empowered, families, communities and countries benefit. 

IFAD has been at the forefront of gender equality in rural communities, with a focus on transformative and long-lasting results. Our programmes and projects are inclusive and results-oriented. They help rural women grow more food, connect to markets, increase their incomes, and become more literate and financially skilled. 

Women’s empowerment cannot be achieved without change at a household level, involving all members, young and old, women and men. 

IFAD, in cooperation with its partners, is one of the leading agencies pioneering the innovative approach of using Household Methodologies (HHMs). This approach seeks to change the persistent pattern of gender inequality, particularly among farming families and communities.

HHMs shift the focus from the individual to the household level, and from things – such as assets, resources and infrastructure – to people, and who they aspire to be and what they aspire to do.

Participants learn about the links between poverty and gender inequality in the household, while developing a shared vision for the family’s development. 

The results have been transformational. Improving the status of women has led to greater agricultural productivity and the fairer distribution of labour. There have been other game-changing development outcomes, such as improved child nutrition, since women are more likely than men to spend their income on food and education. 

Empowered women are able to participate more fully in their communities and encourage inclusive local policies that further drive rural development.

Spotlight

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Each year, to raise public awareness of gender-based violence across the world, the United Nations recognizes 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. 
Tags: GENDER

Projects

Pakistan

Southern Federally Administered Tribal Areas Development Project
Read More

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rural Competitiveness Development Programme
Read More

Brazil

Maranhão Rural Poverty Alleviation Project
Read More

Related news

Governments need to halt the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on rural women, says IFAD President on International Day of Rural Women

October 2020 - NEWS
Our food supply is at risk if we don’t start prioritizing rural women during this pandemic, said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD in a strong call to governments to increase their investments in rural women.

Lesotho and IFAD join to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable small-scale farmers

September 2020 - NEWS
160,000 poor rural households in Lesotho will benefit from new financing for a project that will boost food security and nutrition, mitigate the impact of climate change and strengthen livelihoods for greater income. 

Un total de 25 organizaciones impulsan una campaña para empoderar a las mujeres rurales, indígenas y afrodescendientes frente a la pandemia de COVID-19

July 2020 - NEWS
58 millones de mujeres viven en zonas rurales de América Latina y el Caribe; una parte importante de ellas juega un rol central en la producción y abastecimiento de alimentos

Related publications

The Gender Network

July 2020
The Gender Network, with more than 2,000 members, has the goal of increasing IFAD’s impact on gender equality and strengthen women’s empowerment in poor rural areas. 

Informe de Género e Inclusión Social: Región Andina

February 2020
Las desigualdades de género todavía están muy marcadas en los países andinos a pesar de la mayor atención que se está dando a la igualdad de género y el empoderamiento de la mujer. 

Brief on Gender and Social Inclusion: East and Southern Africa

February 2020
This report summarizes the key facts about, and current observations on, the status of gender and social inclusion within the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region.

Related documents

Gender mainstreaming in IFAD10

Tags: GENDER
Type: Policies and Strategies, Strategy

IFAD policy on gender equality and women's empowerment

Tags: GENDER
Type: Policies and Strategies, Policy

 

Contact us

For questions and to sign up to the IFAD Newsletter on gender equality and social inclusion please email gender@ifad.org