Egalité homme-femme et développement

Food security and land rights: Empowering rural women


Overview l Background l Next steps

Joint workshop organised by GENDERNET and the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE), Addis Ababa, 31 January-1 February 2012
On 31 January and 1 February 2012, members of the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the UN Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality joined forces at a workshop in Addis Ababa to identify how to strengthen support for rural women. The workshop gathered 100 experts from bilateral and multilateral agencies, as well as representatives from civil society. The main objectives of this joint initiative were to:

  • deepen knowledge and understanding of issues related to women‘s role and access to productive
  • resources and markets for food security and agriculture
  • identify entry points for strengthening practice in both policy approaches and programming
  • encourage the free exchange of information and collaboration amongst gender advisors, agricultural specialists and other development actors from bilateral and multilateral agencies, government partners and civil society.

GENDERNET and IANWGE hold joint workshops every two years to exchange ideas and share information on issues of mutual relevance and interest. GENDERNET members also held an informal network meeting on 30 January 2012 and a consultation with the World Bank on 3 February 2012 in Addis Ababa.


Food insecurity and malnutrition - resulting from inequitable access to food, volatile food prices and increased pressure on land and other natural resources - have major global ramifications. Gender inequality is a major cause and effect of hunger and poverty around the world. It is estimated that 60% of chronically hungry people are women and girls, while countries with the highest levels of hunger also have high levels of gender inequality. At the same time, women and girls are critical actors for overcoming hunger, malnutrition and poverty. But while they form the backbone of smallholder agriculture and are the main food producers in many developing countries, they generally have more limited access than men to key opportunities, productive resources, local services and social protection.
All actors need to step up their efforts to allow for improved participation of rural women at all levels of policy and decision-making processes, including in sectors and around issues related to rural development, agriculture and trade. It has been estimated that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%.


Next steps
Against this background, and drawing on evidence from case studies presented in the workshop, participants called for bilateral and multilateral donors to:

  • recognise rural women as leaders and agents of change
  • strengthen rural women’s property and user rights, including land rights
  • ensure better results and impacts for rural women by building the evidence-base of what works
  • improve their practices and behaviours to support rural women by using the aid effectiveness principles
  • use traditional practices and indigenous knowledge to support rural women
  • ensure that the negative impacts of climate change on rural women are mitigated and that  the benefits of green growth flow to women
  • invest in and for rural women.

Workshop participants will take these messages to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and will also use them to make rural women and gender equality count at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) later this year.




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