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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

Building women’s resilience and livelihoods

Around the world today, women make up over half the people working in agriculture – as smallholders, market gardeners, wage labourers, unpaid workers on family farms – and that figure is on the rise.
Tags: GENDER

Projects

Pakistan

Southern Federally Administered Tribal Areas Development Project
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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rural Competitiveness Development Programme
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Brazil

Maranhão Rural Poverty Alleviation Project
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Call for proposals: Stepping up IFAD’s gender transformative agenda - Women’s land rights initiative

February 2020 - NEWS
This call for proposals is to select a recipient or consortium of recipients to receive a three-year IFAD grant financing to implement the project: Stepping up IFAD’s gender transformative agenda - Women’s land rights (WLR) initiative, for a total amount of up to US$3 million.

New Report: Investments in indigenous peoples, youth and women essential to fight climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean

December 2019 - NEWS
Development projects that integrate investments in rural indigenous peoples, youth and women with measures to adapt to climate change are more likely to be successful in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new report launched today by IFAD.

As climate shocks intensify, UN food agencies urge more support for southern Africa's hungry people

October 2019 - NEWS
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for urgent funding to avert a major hunger crisis and for the international community to step up investment in long-term measures to combat the impact of climate shocks and build the capacity of communities and countries to withstand them.

Making agricultural and climate risk insurance gender inclusive: How to improve access to insurance for rural women

February 2020
IFAD’s technical assistance programme INSURED (Insurance for rural resilience and economic development) has been building knowledge about how to strengthen women producers’ access to climate risk insurance. 

The faces of empowerment - Photo Essay about the beneficiaries of the Joint Programme on Rural Women Economic Empowerment

December 2019
This photo essay describes the different types of changes in the life of women that are participating in the JP RWEE.

Research Series Issue 44: Gender, rural youth and structural transformation: evidence to inform innovative youth programming

December 2019
This study analyses sex-disaggregated data from various countries to characterize rural youths’ transition to adulthood by gender. 

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