Rural women and girls are key agents of change to free the world from hunger and extreme poverty, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today at a special side-event on gender equality and women's empowerment on the sidelines of the FAO's Conference.
"Their role goes beyond agricultural production and extends throughout the food system but, as we all know, rural women continue to face multiple constraints," he said, noting that they have less access to productive resources and employment opportunities.
He also stressed that women are more affected by the consequences of conflicts and crises. "During a drought situation, for example, a greater workload is placed on women. In Africa and Latin America, women can spend many hours a day searching for water in times of drought and then need to walk many kilometers carrying a bucket of water on their head," he said.
Graziano da Silva also highlighted the importance of partnerships in supporting rural women.
As an example, he cited a joint effort of FAO, IFAD, WFP, and UN Women - the UN Agency specialized in gender. "Together, we are supporting national governments to implement a global programme called "Accelerating progress towards the economic empowerment of rural women". This programme aims to improve rural women's livelihoods in seven countries, including Guatemala, Nepal and Ethiopia," he said. "As a result, more women in these countries have been able to open bank accounts in their own names. More women are accessing credit. And more women are running their own individual businesses," the FAO chief added.
Graziano da Sillva said that FAO provides technical support to empower rural women in more than 15 countries, including Rwanda, Belize, Bolivia, Afghanistan and Tunisia.
Participating in the panel discussion "Leaving no one behind: Achieving gender equality for food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture" along with Graziano da Silva were El Salvador's Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugo Martinez Bonilla; Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender of ECOWAS Fatima Dia Sow; Cambodia's Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ty Sokhun; General Director of Foreign Relations and EU Coordination of Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey Ali Recep Nazli, Tunisia's Minister of Women and Family Affairs Néziha Labidi, CEO and Founder of Madame Coquette - Beneficiary of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme Haowa Bello, and Coordinator of the Yani Tundavii Dikuintií Collective of the Network of Young Indigenous People of Latin America Jessica Vega Ortega.