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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

In rural China, greenhouses bring new life to the desert

Growing food is a challenge in the harsh desert landscape of northwestern China. But thanks to new greenhouses built by a local cooperative, this village is bursting with fruits, vegetables and mushrooms.

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

In rural China, greenhouses bring new life to the desert

januari 2024 - STORY

Growing food is a challenge in the harsh desert landscape of northwestern China. But thanks to new greenhouses built by a local cooperative, this village is bursting with fruits, vegetables and mushrooms.

A year of rural stories

december 2023 - STORY

For countless people in IFAD-supported projects, 2023 was a year in which their lives changed. Here are some of the stories we told over the past 12 months.

 

Gender equality in rural areas essential to climate change adaptation, says IFAD President

december 2023 - NEWS

In the face of escalating climate change impacts on vulnerable rural populations globally, Alvaro Lario, the President of IFAD, emphasized today that promoting gender equality in rural communities is essential to climate change adaptation, with women acting as powerful catalysts of change.

Harvesting equality in rural households - Episode 49

oktober 2023 - PODCAST

Rural women are at the heart of agriculture – yet they’ve less resources, time and decision-making power than men. So how does IFAD combat gender inequality in rural communities?

Gender View more link

Related publications

Related publications

Women transforming rural areas in Northern Montenegro

november 2023

Montenegro’s Rural Clustering and Transformation Project highlights the imperative of integrating rural women into decision-making processes at all levels. This policy brief underscores the importance of enhancing rural women's education, training and job access.

Scaling gender and climate investment opportunities

september 2023

 This paper finds that investing in rural women helps achieve climate goals, while simultaneously addressing gender inequality and poverty.

2022 Year in Review: Joint Programme on Gender Transformative Approaches for Food Security and Nutrition

juli 2023

This year in review is a snapshot of the Joint Programme on Gender Transformative Approaches for Food Security and Nutrition in 2022.

Contentverzamelaar

 

Contact us

For questions and to sign up to the IFAD Newsletter on gender equality and social inclusion please email [email protected]