“Rural women play a key role in supporting their households and communities in achieving food and nutrition security, generating income and improving rural livelihoods and overall well- being” (Rural women and the millennium development goals). However, rural women in developing countries are relegated to labour intensive activities, are given little access to resources , are not involved in the decision making process but their income, the income they generate, goes into men’s pocket. Evidence shows that if women had access to the same productive resources as men women could:
• raise the total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4%
• reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17%
• increase the yields on their farms by 20 to 30% .
This means that by addressing gender inequalities, women could play a crucial role in reducing poverty and paving the way towards IFAD commitment to lift 80 million rural people out of poverty by 2015. But how can we support rural women and help them to overcome those persistent social and structural constraints ? How can IFAD projects better address gender inequalities? We have a new policy that places gender equality and women’s empowerment at the heart of our ambitious strategic plans for reducing poverty and this week is the gender training week; a golden opportunity for IFAD and FAO colleagues to work together on case studies using innovative approaches and participatory tools.
The training is divided in modular sessions on gender in key thematic areas and you can join one or more sessions . Yesterday we focused on targeting and gender strategy , gender and poverty reduction issues and gender along the value chain and we learned that:
• gender division of labour along the value chain is not equal
• women tend to trade on local market while men tend to trade on a larger scale
• women grow crops, men sell
• women engagement in marketing is confined to small volumes while men dominate the large volumes
• once the volume to be marketed becomes sizable, the activity becomes male-dominated
• gender equality requires a cultural change of both men and women
• gender balance does not mean that there is no space for men, gender balance is about equal gender division of labour along the value chain and equal opportunities.
• gender inequalities can be addressed by strengthening the role of women
• gender inequalities can be addressed by engaging men. Watch the video “'Mapping the road to change, action learning for gender justice in Western Uganda' ” . Men can change!
The training is still on, join one of the coming session and contribute to the discussion.