FAO.org

Home > About FAO > Meetings > Step It Up Together with Rural Women to End Hunger and Poverty > About the event
Step It Up Together with Rural Women to End Hunger and Poverty

Background

The 2030 Agenda and the future we want

In September 2015, the 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, uniting the international community in a comprehensive commitment to end poverty and hunger, combat inequalities and promote prosperity while responding to climate change, protecting our environment and sustaining our natural resources. 

No one left behind: gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls

Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls lies at the centre of the 2030 Agenda. In addition to the targets for SDG5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, it is reflected and mainstreamed across all 17 SDGs.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is therefore an absolute precondition to break the cycle of poverty, hunger and malnutrition and, more generally, to succeed in achieving all 17 SDGs. In recognizing this, more than 90 Heads of State and Government have pledged to “Step It Up For Gender Equality” since September 2015, committing to concrete and measurable actions towards achieving gender equality in their countries by 2030.

When women control additional income, they spend more of it than men do on food, health, clothing and education for their children. Enabling and empowering rural women therefore translates into improved overall well-being for children, households and communities, which in turn contributes to building human capital for future generations and to long-term social and economic growth.

Empowering rural women and girls is therefore not only critical for agricultural development, it is crucial to social and economic progress, and to sustainable development overall.

The role of rural women

The Event centres on the critical role and contribution of rural women in increasing food security and eradicating rural poverty through agricultural and rural development. Gender equality and the empowerment of rural women is inextricably linked to the strengthening of food systems to fight hunger and malnutrition, and to real gains for rural lives and livelihoods at large.

Rural women are a significant, vital and sizeable proportion of humankind. As farmers and farm workers, horticulturists and market sellers, businesswomen, entrepreneurs and community leaders, they make up over a quarter of the world’s population. In developing countries especially, they represent approximately 43 percent of the agricultural labour force. Because they produce, process and prepare much of the food available, they are not only critical to agricultural value chains, they are primarily responsible for the food security of their families and their communities.

Indeed, there is substantial evidence that as much as half of the reduction in hunger between 1970 and 1995 can be attributed to improvements in women's societal status: progress in women's access to education alone was linked to a 43 percent gain in food security—as significant as the gains from increased food availability (26 percent) and health advances (19 percent) combined.

What happens when rural women are empowered?

Gender inequalities in access to many productive assets, inputs and services, including land, livestock, markets, labour, extension and financial services have often undermined rural women’s ability to contribute to reducing hunger and poverty.

But despite these gaps, across a range of sectors as varied as fisheries, aquaculture, crops, livestock and more, rural women have demonstrated, time and again, their determination, ingenuity and resilience in turning the challenges of poverty, hunger and hardship into opportunities for the well-being of their families and communities. 

When rural women have access to resources, services and opportunities, they become a driving force against hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty

When women control additional income, they spend more of it than men do on food, health, clothing and education for their children. Enabling and empowering rural women therefore translates into improved overall well-being for children, households and communities, which in turn contributes to building human capital for future generations and to long-term social and economic growth.

Empowering rural women and girls is therefore not only critical for agricultural development, it is crucial to social and economic progress, and to sustainable development overall.