Meet some of the women leading sustainable development around the world

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Meet some of the women leading sustainable development around the world

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
©IFAD/Petterik Wiggers

Sustainable development can only be achieved with the contributions of rural women. As the centre of their families and communities, as well as nearly half of the agricultural workforce in developing countries, they are the key to economic, environmental, and social transformation.  

Yet they face many challenges, including limited access to credit, health care, and education. Climate change only adds to these obstacles.

The JP RWEE initiative aims to secure rural women's livelihoods and rights, address the key challenges they face, and create sustainable development. It has reached nearly 80,000 women in seven countries so far, and a new phase of the programme is set to begin in five additional countries during 2022. One of the many ways it does this is through climate-smart agriculture: a set of practices that help farmers adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Let’s meet three of the women who have transformed their lives with the help of this programme and these methods.

Josephine’s life has been transformed through the techniques she’s learned.


Tomatoes now grow year-round in Josephine Mushimiyimana’s new greenhouses in Rwanda, thanks to training and support provided by JP RWEE. She’s now able to use less water, and the quality of her soil has increased due to the absence of toxic pesticides and residues. That translates into more tomatoes to sell – and higher prices for them. “It has been life-changing,” Josephine says of her experience with the programme.

JP RWEE participants assist with the construction of an irrigation channel.


Santa Daruwal used to have to travel far in the scorching heat of lowland Nepal to find water for her crops. The long distance and small buckets meant she often could not carry enough water for them, resulting in crop losses. Now, thanks to the year-round irrigation channels constructed by women participating in the JP RWEE, Santa has increased both the quantity and variety of vegetables she sells and eats.

Tulule applies seed spacing, the line sowing approach, to her farmland


Droughts and flooding caused by climate change severely affected the crops on Tulule Knife's small farm in Ethiopia. Through the JP RWEE, she learned a line sowing technique that helped increase her wheat yields four-fold. She now has more than enough income to meet her basic household needs.

Virtually every JP RWEE participant possesses an extensive repertoire of localized knowledge about the region where she lives and its ecosystems. The programme taps into this knowledge to help its participants build their skills as agricultural producers and entrepreneurs while enhancing their knowledge of climate-smart practices. This results in better and more stable yields, helping to improve rural women's livelihoods in an environmentally sustainable manner. In fact, the first phase of the programme saw an 82 per cent increase in the production of its participants, thanks in part to the adoption of climate-smart practices and the use of labor-saving technologies.

Find out more about the JP RWEE initiative, a partnership between IFAD, WFP, FAO, and UN Women.

Learn more about IFAD’s work in Ethiopia, Nepal and Rwanda.