Advancing rural women’s empowerment
Gender equality and the empowerment of women are prerequisites for the eradication of poverty and hunger. First and foremost, gender inequalities and discrimination represent fundamental violations of the human rights of women. In addition, it is well recognized that gender inequality and discrimination undermine agricultural productivity globally,1 negatively impact children’s health and nutrition, and erode outcomes across social and economic development indicators. Much work on rural women’s empowerment has focused on the need to expand women’s access to productive resources, which can allow them to increase their productivity. However, much more attention needs to be directed at underlying gender inequalities such as gender-biased institutions, social norms, and customs that negatively impact women’s work (paid and unpaid), livelihoods and well-being. Within food systems, these biases manifest themselves in limiting women’s access to productive resources, to services (such as finance and training), to commercial opportunities and social protection (including maternity protection). These manifestations may be regarded as symptoms, therefore, rather than drivers, of gender inequality.