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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

From subsistence to self-sufficiency: how women in Sudan are using savings and credit groups to build a better future

Climate change, commercial agribusiness, and societal norms threaten small-scale farmers’ way of life in a small village in Sudan. A women’s savings and credit group is changing this.

Projects

Projects

Pakistan

Southern Federally Administered Tribal Areas Development Project

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rural Competitiveness Development Programme

Brazil

Maranhão Rural Poverty Alleviation Project

Stories and news

Stories and news

From subsistence to self-sufficiency: how women in Sudan are using savings and credit groups to build a better future

July 2022 - STORY
Climate change, commercial agribusiness, and societal norms threaten small-scale farmers’ way of life in a small village in Sudan. A women’s savings and credit group is changing this.

As COP15 tackles desertification, here are three ways IFAD is helping farmers in sub-Saharan Africa build their resilience to climate change

May 2022 - STORY
Sub-Saharan Africa’s drylands – that is, the areas where more water is lost through evaporation than gained through rainfall – are facing widespread degradation. There are many factors causing this, but one of the most prominent is the use of agricultural practices that aren’t adapted to the land, such as overgrazing and intensive agriculture.

In rural Morocco, one woman’s efforts transform the lives of many

May 2022 - STORY
When Fatima-Zohra first arrived in her new home, a rural village in the Moroccan highlands, she discovered the local women didn’t have many job opportunities. But they were enthusiastic about the idea of going into business for themselves – and so Fatima-Zohra got to work.

IFAD Vice President to meet Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente and ministers in Rwanda

May 2022 - NEWS
The Vice President of IFAD, Dominik Ziller, will meet with Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, as well as other high-level government officials during a visit starting 9 May.

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Related publications

Related publications

Guide to formulating gendered social norms indicators in the context of food security and nutrition

July 2022
This guide provides assistance on formulating indicators to measure changes in gendered social norms in the context of food security and nutrition.

Research Series 74: Women’s empowerment, food systems, and nutrition

May 2022
This background paper examines the linkages and interactions between women’s empowerment, food systems, and nutrition.

How to do note: Integrating the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) in IFAD operations

March 2022
This note provides practical guidance on how to roll out the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) for IFAD-funded projects.

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Contact us

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