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Gender

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

Spotlight

It’s time to end violence against rural women

Ending gender-based violence is not only a moral imperative – it’s also a matter of removing one of the biggest impediments to inclusive and sustainable rural development. Here, we answer questions about how we’re changing economic and social structures to empower women around the world.

Tags: GENDER, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Projects

Projects

Pakistan

Southern Federally Administered Tribal Areas Development Project

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rural Competitiveness Development Programme

Brazil

Maranhão Rural Poverty Alleviation Project

Related stories

Related stories

It’s time to end violence against rural women

November 2021 - STORY
Ending gender-based violence is not only a moral imperative – it’s also a matter of removing one of the biggest impediments to inclusive and sustainable rural development. Here, we answer questions about how we’re changing economic and social structures to empower women around the world.

Tipping the scales of equality in the Philippines

November 2021 - VIDEO
"Before, these women were just waiting at home. Now, we are more educated. We are empowered to be more independent," says Ruperta Gagarin, a businesswoman from the Philippines.

Oysters and honey: The perfect combination for Senegal’s Delta of Saloum

October 2021 - STORY
The Delta of Saloum’s mangrove forest is rich in beauty and biodiversity, but it has suffered from years of deforestation, disrupting the area’s ecosystem and threatening the livelihoods of the area’s farmers and fishers. Recently, a collaborative project has begun to tackle both problems by funding a restoration of the mangrove and supporting local farmers’ associations.

Related news

Related news

Invest in gender equality to reduce climate change impacts on world’s poorest, says IFAD President on the International Day of Rural Women

October 2021 - NEWS
We need a significant boost in investments to close the gender gap otherwise rural communities will never bounce back from the impacts of climate change, warned Gilbert F. Houngbo, the President of IFAD, on the International Day of Rural Women.

Empowering women and girls is crucial to ensure sustainable food security in the aftermath of COVID-19, say UN food agency heads ahead of International Women’s Day

March 2021 - NEWS
Hunger and famine will persist and there will be unequal recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic unless more women in rural and urban areas hold leadership positions with increased decision-making power.

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.

Related publications

Related publications

Joint Programme on: Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women

November 2021
This collection of success stories and good practices shows the impact of the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (JP RWEE) among rural women in the seven participating countries: Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda.

Joint Programme on Gender Transformative Approaches for Food Security, Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture

November 2021
This is the official flyer of the JP GTA. It provides information about the Joint Programme's overview, background, objective, expected results, key components and country-level activities as well as key issues related to gender transformative approaches.

Enhancing women’s resource rights for improving resilience to climate change

November 2021
This brief summarizes relevant findings from socio-legal analyses, combining the review of key legal and policy documents and literature on existing barriers to the recognition of women’s land rights.

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