Through Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, countries around the world have committed to the goal of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. This is particularly vital in rural areas where inequalities are often greatest. Women produce more than half of all the food that is grown, yet many factors converge to prevent rural women from escaping poverty through their agricultural activities. To meet these challenges, we must be aware of the realities of traditional gender norms that prescribe women’s expected roles.
In the lead-up to the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 61), UN Women’s focus on Women in the Changing World of Work sets the context for achieving the targets in a world of work that is changing fast, through innovation, increasing mobility and informality.
"Women and girls are critical to rural development. Empowering them generates major gains. It allows them to become strong leaders. To participate equally, freely and take bold decisions. Our commitment to them today is a crucial key to our commitment to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,"
-Maria-Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, Coordinator for Natural Resources, speaking at the dialogue, ‘Planet 50:50: Step It Up for Gender Equality and Zero Hunger' held at FAO Headquarters on International Women’s Day
The Partners in GFAR have long championed the need to address gender inequalities and empower women in agriculture and rural development. At the request of a wide range of partners in the first Global Conference on Women in Agriculture, in 2012, GFAR established the Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP). GAP is an open and inclusive community of institutions and individuals who have come together to develop collective actions and bring common advocacy on gender-based issues in agriculture. The GAP partners and catalysts are increasingly focused on the economic empowerment of women in agriculture, protecting their rights and promoting sustainability (See UN Women’s Facts and Figures on Economic Empowerment).
GFAR’s new key focus area on "Enabling sustainable rural enterprise" recognizes that women’s enterprise development in particular—through entrepreneurial and small business management capacities—is crucial to increasing the income and well-being of the rural poor.
How Partners in GAP and GFAR are bringing change
This year, International Women’s Day (IWD) has brought an urgent call for awareness of the value of women’s work, and for action to close gender gaps globally. Through the IWD, many partners in GAP and GFAR have showcased their work as part of the Women in the Changing World of Work campaign.
Farming First, a Partner in GFAR, shares 17 Programs Helping Women Feed the World for IWD2017, including programs led by other GFAR Partners – Technoserve and IFDC. Technoserve is training women in Rajasthan, India to cultivate home gardens to improve household nutrition while redefining their roles, and IFDC, is transforming the way women work by offering best practices for weed control and fertilizer application in Benin.
The CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research, part of CGIAR (one of the international partners in GFAR) shares an online digest of stories from different CGIAR Research Programs and Centers conducting research that helps to change the world of work for women. Among these are stories of results being seen in strengthening African women’s participation in wheat farming, small machinery providing affordable options for women farmers in Nepal and girls in Zimbabwe being inspired to embrace agriculture careers. An IWD-linked opportunity of note from CIMMYT is the launch of a series of training courses promoting the integration of gender awareness and analysis in research for development.
The Global Landscapes Forum has collated its top 5 articles on gender, highlighting best practices in securing the rights of women to land and livelihoods. “Climate Smart means Women” shows how the inclusion of women is a key component in successful climate projects being carried out by GFAR partners in AIRCA, including ICIMOD, CABI, and CATIE.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlights that sustainable use of natural resources is also an important consideration in women’s economic empowerment. With their traditional knowledge of sustainability at the household and community level, women can play a critical role in the conservation of natural resources, while protecting and providing income for their families.
Gender networks in fisheries and aquaculture have been particularly active lately. A special IWD special issue newsletter from WorldFish offers an overview of Why Gender Equity Matters in Fisheries and Aquaculture. The Gender in Aquaculture and Fisheries Section (GAFS) of the Asian Fisheries Society (AFS) has recently launched the first formal gender community committed to equitable and effective cooperation in research and practice on gender in aquaculture and fisheries issues (learn more here).
Released for IWD, valuable gender resources include IFAD’s glossary on gender issues and a newly updated research synthesis brief synthesizes key findings from recent Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) projects around the world looking at gender issues in the context of development and sustainability.
“We want to construct a different world of work for women. As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choices that lead beyond the traditional service and care options to jobs in industry, art, public service, modern agriculture and science”.
-UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Further campaigns for gender equality
Another theme that has emerged this year through IWD highlights the disparity across all sectors between women’s and men’s workload, job security, working conditions, pay and access to assets and resources. The numbers are astounding: women in developing countries could be $9 trillion better off per year if their opportunities were the same as men’s. When the progress in closing gender gaps is measured in terms of health, education, economy and politics, it is now predicted that the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186.
The theme #BeBoldforChange aims to foster decent work and education opportunities for women and girls, and global campaigns are confronting gender bias and inequality head on.ONE’s “Poverty is Sexist” campaign takes aim at breaking down the barriers to girls’ education. And in a decisively bold step this year, a global women’s strike on March 8th coincided with International Women’s Day, showing the vital contribution of women to the global economy, and which brings IWD back to its roots.
UN Women has started a new HeforShe campaign led by male global leaders, as thematic champions who have committed to game-changing policies and concrete actions towards gender parity in senior management, paid parental leave and tackling domestic violence.
Image credits: 1-LWR / Jake Lyell from USAID on Flickr; 2-IFDC; 3-UN Women; 4-internationalwomensday.com