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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

Leading from the front - How rural women across South Asia are inspiring their communities

From the fields they sow to the harvest they reap and the cattle they raise – women are the backbone of farming in South Asia. Yet, their contributions often remain invisible, and they are denied access to resources and a voice in decisions.

Tags: GENDER

Projects

Projects

Pakistan

Southern Federally Administered Tribal Areas Development Project

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rural Competitiveness Development Programme

Brazil

Maranhão Rural Poverty Alleviation Project

Related stories

Related stories

Invest in gender equality to reduce climate change impacts on world’s poorest, says IFAD President on the International Day of Rural Women

October 2021 - NEWS
We need a significant boost in investments to close the gender gap otherwise rural communities will never bounce back from the impacts of climate change, warned Gilbert F. Houngbo, the President of IFAD, on the International Day of Rural Women.

Leading from the front - How rural women across South Asia are inspiring their communities

October 2021 - STORY
From the fields they sow to the harvest they reap and the cattle they raise – women are the backbone of farming in South Asia. Yet, their contributions often remain invisible, and they are denied access to resources and a voice in decisions.

Transforming lives by transforming gender norms in rural communities

October 2021 - STORY
Women are major contributors to the rural communities where IFAD works but they continue to face barriers that inhibit their – and their families’ – livelihoods. Compared with men, women 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.

Related news

Related news

Invest in gender equality to reduce climate change impacts on world’s poorest, says IFAD President on the International Day of Rural Women

October 2021 - NEWS
We need a significant boost in investments to close the gender gap otherwise rural communities will never bounce back from the impacts of climate change, warned Gilbert F. Houngbo, the President of IFAD, on the International Day of Rural Women.

Empowering women and girls is crucial to ensure sustainable food security in the aftermath of COVID-19, say UN food agency heads ahead of International Women’s Day

March 2021 - NEWS
Hunger and famine will persist and there will be unequal recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic unless more women in rural and urban areas hold leadership positions with increased decision-making power.

Governments need to halt the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on rural women, says IFAD President on International Day of Rural Women

October 2020 - NEWS
Our food supply is at risk if we don’t start prioritizing rural women during this pandemic, said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD in a strong call to governments to increase their investments in rural women.

Related publications

Related publications

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

October 2021
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.

Rural women and girls 25 years after Beijing - Critical agents of positive change

February 2021
The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, also known as “Beijing + 25”, provides an excellent opportunity for governments, civil society, the United Nations system and all development actors to take stock of progress made towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Gender transformative approaches for food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture – A compendium of fifteen good practices

December 2020
The Compendium is a product of the Joint Programme on Gender Transformative Approaches for Food Security and Nutrition implemented by FAO, IFAD and WFP and funded by the European Union.

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