Capacity Development Portal

Capitalize and share knowledge on food security
and empowerment of rural people

Why knowledge management and gender?

Why knowledge management?

A strategy is essential in order to capitalize on experiences and to avoid losing what has been learned. The challenge of this Programme is to demonstrate that there is more to gain by sharing what we know. Sharing enables one to deliver the most appropriate information, leading to an appropriate action which in turn impacts the environment an appropriate way. 

A strategy for effective knowledge management comprises several stages:

  1. Acquiring the relevant knowledge in order to document the existing experience/know-how, translate it into different languages, adapt it to the intended audience.
  2. Enabling a system to manage all the contents to file and classify materials so as to be able to retrieve them easily.
  3. Sharing and disseminating knowledge through specific means of communication appropriate for each group of users.
  4. Effectively applying the shared knowledge in order to ensure ownership by users and achieve the desired impact or change.

Why gender?


The quest for gender equality is essential to address sustainable development, including the key issues of food insecurity and poverty. Gender equality is crucial to accomplish FAO’s mandate on food security and nutrition, to improve living conditions, to increase agricultural productivity, and to ensure that rural populations - women, men, and young people - have equal access to resources, goods and services and decision making in rural areas.  

The Report on the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA 2010-2011) draws attention to the fundamental contribution of women in agriculture in many developing countries. It underlined the need to enable rural women to access the same resources and opportunities as men, to produce more and better. Better production also means having access to information, education, and decision-making power to act. See also the FAO animation: Closing the gap between men and women in agriculture.  

It is important to clarify concepts when talking about gender. The terms "sex" and "gender" are not synonyms and not interchangeable. "Sex" refers to a biological concept while "gender" is a sociological concept continuously evolving. Gender does not mean "women" nor exclude men.

The following table highlights the differences:

"Sex or gender" 



Biological concept
Biological characteristics (biological sex).

Sociological concept
Characteristics and interactions of roles and responsibilities attributed to women and men (social sex).

Innate character
Determined at birth (natural).

Acquired character
Socially inculcated (not natural).

Universal in scope
Every person in the world is either a man or a woman.

Specific in scope
Influenced by place, time, culture, religion, social class, ethnic group, etc.

Definitive in nature
Does not usually change over time.

Dynamic and evolving in nature
Subject to social dynamics, economic developments, political changes, environmental changes, etc.


In all but exceptional cases, women have a pair of XX sex chromosomes and men a pair of XY sex chromosomes.

Both men and women can lead governments, fly aeroplanes, look after the elderly, be bodyguards, etc. The obstacles are neither physical nor biological; they are the product of society.

FAO-Dimitra, 2011. Communicating Gender for Rural Development. Integrating Gender in Communication for Development

Gender is a sociological concept, a development approach and also an operational strategy and analysis methodology. It is also an approach: Gender and Development (GAD), that should not be mistaken for the approach called Women in Development (WID). They are not interchangeable.

Gender and Development includes a process of awareness raising regarding prejudices and discriminations in order to fight against them. It questions the way institutions and development models work taking action to eliminate inequalities.

The Women in Development approach recognizes women’s productive and reproductive roles and mainly aims at improving women’s livelihoods.

Two approaches to development: WID and GAD

Women in Development

Gender and Development


• "The problem is women!"

• Considers men and women interactively 


• Women

• Relations and relationships between men and women

Issue to be addresed

• The exclusion of women from the development process

• Unequal power relations that prevent and restrict women’s participation in development

Ultimate goal

• More efficient and effective development

• Effective, equal, fair and sustainable development


• To integrate women into the existing economic development process

• To empower the poorest people, including women


• Projects for women
• Project components aimed at women
• Boosting women’s productivity
• Increasing women’s income
• Increasing women’s capacity to carry out tasks related to their role

• Participatory identification and consideration of:
- The practical needs of women and men in order to improve their livelihoods;
- the strategic interests of each group in terms of advancing their situation. 

FAO-Dimitra, 2011. Communicating Gender for Rural Development. Integrating Gender in Communication for Development