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Ten things to know about gender equality and rural poverty

©IFAD/Rockey Prajapati

Over 70% of the world’s poor people live in rural areas and most rural women and men rely on agriculture. But rural women generally have more limited access than men to inputs, services, rural organisations, productive infrastructure and technologies.


Women represent 43% of the global agricultural workforce. ©IFAD/Santiago Albert Pons

In developing countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, women typically work 12 to 13 hours more per week than men. Yet, women’s contributions are often ‘invisible’ and unpaid. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Women typically spend up to 90% of their income on their family while men spend 30-40 per cent, even when the overall income is insufficient to meet family needs. Putting assets in the hands of women increases household spending on children’s education and health. ©IFAD/Cristóbal Corral

Empowering women has been found to be one of the most effective ways of reducing chronic child malnutrition. Women play a vital role in both producing and preparing food for young children in their first 1000 days. ©IFAD/Rindra Ramasomanana

Rural women depend mainly on land for their livelihoods. Despite their key role in agriculture, women are less to own or operate land; to have access to rented land, and the land they do have access to is often of poorer quality and in smaller plots. ©IFAD/Asad Zaidi

The value of men’s livestock holdings is twice that of women. In many societies, cattle and larger animals are owned by men, while smaller animals, such as goats, sheep, pigs and backyard poultry kept near the house, belong to the woman's domain. ©Fatoumata Diabate'

Rural women and girls spend up to four hours a day collecting fuel and water for household use – time that could more profitably be spent in school or earning an income. ©IFAD/Roger Arnold

In most regions, women and girls still lag behind in education. In many rural areas, female household heads have less than half the years of education of their male counterparts. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio


Sources: 1: IFAD Gender Policy, 2: FAO, The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11, 3: IFAD Fact Sheet: Gender equality and women's empowerment, 2012, 4: Gender and Livestock: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities, International Livestock Research Institute, 2013, 5: IFAD Gender Policy, 6: IFAD Fact Sheet: Gender equality and women's empowerment, 2012, 7: IFAD Fact Sheet: Women and rural development, 2011, and IFAD Livestock Thematic Papers, 8: IFAD Rural Finance Policy, and IFAD Fact Sheet: Women and rural development, 2011, 9: IFAD Fact Sheet: Women and rural development, 2011, and MDG Report 2012, 10: IFAD Fact Sheet: Women and rural development, 2011