Champions of change: Meet the winners of the 2024 IFAD Gender Awards


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Champions of change: Meet the winners of the 2024 IFAD Gender Awards

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
© IFAD/Carlos Sanchez

At IFAD, we know that sustainable development is impossible without rural women. Their empowerment is crucial to transforming food systems, building thriving rural communities and creating lasting prosperity for all.

That’s why, since 2013, we have recognized projects from every corner of the world that go the extra mile for gender equality.

Let’s visit the five inspiring winners of this year’s Gender Awards and find out how they’re addressing the harmful practices, social norms and economic disparities that keep women from achieving their potential.

Tackling inequality in Bolivia

In the Bolivian Andes, the Pro-Camélidos project has put gender equality at the heart of efforts to strengthen value chains and reduce poverty among llama and alpaca farmers.

Through innovative workshops, the project has trained communities to challenge beliefs, norms and behaviours that discriminate against women – and driven real change.

Women like Roberta Rivera Mollo are now at the forefront of efforts to produce and sell artisanal delicacies like charque (llama jerky). She now manufactures up to 100 kg each month and is hoping to export overseas.

“We are able to feed ourselves and our families, and we’re not only looking to men for our income,” she says.

Roberta is proud to be following in the footsteps of her father, who founded a livestock farmers’ association in Bolivia. © IFAD/Carlos Sanchez


Supporting women's businesses in Cambodia

In northwest Cambodia, the IFAD and ADB-supported Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction Project empowered women to challenge the stereotype that agriculture is a man’s job.

As the primary recipients of project funding, local women have finally had the means to fulfil their dreams and set up businesses, from rice cultivation to chicken rearing.

The project also championed women’s leadership, offering business management training and encouraging them to assume key roles. Now women are leading on the development of new markets for their produce.

“With the project’s support, we are contributing to ending the barriers that women face in leadership roles, not just at the community level but at higher levels,” says project gender specialist Sereyroth Lim.



Changing norms in Ghana

Gender equality is an integral part of the Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP), which has boosted incomes and built climate resilience through female-dominated village saving and loan associations.

With GASIP’s support, women in these associations have run for political office (and won!), accessed credit to develop their businesses and found creative ways to campaign for gender justice, like community theatre.

And their efforts are paying off. Local chiefs are starting to join the movement for gender equality and protecting women’s right to access irrigable land, while families are more willing to involve women in income-generating activities at home.

“If we are able to change perceptions at both the individual and household levels, we have hope that in the next generation discrimination and inequality will be minimized,” says GASIP project manager Letitia Sampoa Apam.

Transforming households in Madagascar

Women were one of the main target groups of the FORMAPROD programme, which boosted productivity in rural Madagascar through professional and vocational trainings.

Newly equipped with essential skills and resources, women have led a shift in equality at the household level, with a greater say in family decisions and more balanced chore responsibilities.

Today, local women don’t just have more equal access to opportunities – with a significant reduction in domestic violence, they’re safer, too.

“It really is a reason of great pride for us to have contributed to the empowerment of these young women,” says FORMAPROD operations manager Mickaëlle Andriamahefa.

Over 50,000 women in Madagascar have participated in FORMAPROD's trainings. © Sarisaina Wilco


Amplifying women's voices in Montenegro

The Rural Clustering and Transformation Project (RCTP), which focuses on developing dairy and crop value chains, has brought profound and lasting change to women in northern Montenegro.

To address the root causes of inequalities, the project supported women financially – for example, with grants to buy labour-saving milking machines – and catalyzed conversations on gender equality inside and outside the home.

Women are now shaping community decisions, influencing municipal gender action plans and ensuring their perspectives are reflected in policymaking, as well as taking a stand on issues like gender-based violence.

“By investing in rural women, we are investing in a better society and in food security and safety,” says RCTP gender focal point Bojana Perunović.

Women participating in the RTCP project gather in Petnjica, Montenegro, to share their experiences. Photo courtesy RCTP


These five trailblazing projects recognize and act on a critical fact: gender inequality is one of the most pervasive obstacles to building inclusive, sustainable food systems. From Montenegro to Madagascar and beyond, the women involved are proving that it can be overcome – and that thriving, gender-equal rural communities are possible.

Learn about previous recipients of the Gender Awards.