10 Empowering Women to End Hunger

Lessons from the Joint Programme on Accelerating Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment

Organizers: Network for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment; FAO; IFAD; WFP; UN Women


Throughout the world, developing and emerging economies are experiencing unparalleled pressures on land resulting from climate change and population growth, which has led to increasing investments and speculation in agricultural and forest lands. Much of the arable land in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean is held by states, which are encouraging land investments, and over the last decades millions of hectares have shifted from public to private hands, resulting in significant land conflict and frequently the marginalization of smallholder farmers and indigenous communities. The Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Tenure (VGGT) were endorsed by the CFS in May 2012 as the first global norm on land tenure to address these issues. How far have we come? This side event, which will encourage open dialogue, will present successful efforts related to increasing the transparency of land governance and how these have been beneficial in enhancing food security and nutrition. Representatives from multi- stakeholder groups, farmers’ organizations, civil society, government and an international media organization will share their experiences of how open data, improved accountability in large scale land transactions and secure land tenure and property rights are a necessary conditions for achieving food security and better nutrition.

Key speakers

Brave Ndisale, Deputy Director of the Social Policies and rural Institutions Division of the FAO, speaking on behalf the RWEE International Steering Committee

Lourdes Magana de Larriva, Advisor at the Delegation of the European Union to the UN, co-chair of the Network for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Mats Åberg, Senior Programme Specialist at the Swedish International Development Cooperation agency (Sida)

Ramon Garway, RWEE National Coordinator in Liberia

Alma Valdez, RWEE National Coordinator in Guatemala

Erkinbek Choduev, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Amelioration of the Kyrgyz Republic

Main themes/issues discussed

Implemented by FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women in close collaboration with national governments, RWEE operates in seven countries: Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda with a goal to improve rural women’s livelihoods, food and nutrition security, and enhance their social, political and economic empowerment. The event specifically focused on the JP’s contribution to overall food security and nutrition in target areas, outlining the impact of rural women’s enhanced access to and control over productive resources and services as well as better control over local food security reserves and their production.
During the event experiences, results and good practices from the JP were presented, specifically from Niger, Liberia, Guatemala and Kyrgyzstan.

Summary of key points

The key speakers highlighted the concrete and promising achievements of the JP and its close alignment with the Agenda 2030, as well as its good practices and initial lessons learned. Since the programme’s launch in 2013, and despite being only 50% funded, there has been a close collaboration with national governments and overall 18,000 women and their households have directly benefitted from the programme’s activities. In some countries like Liberia and Guatemala, many women have also benefited indirectly from the JP’s efforts to mainstream gender in national policies, which resulted in an increased commitment of government staff to gender equality. Being the only initiative that brings together the RBAs and UN Women, the JP is working on the same beneficiaries and with single entry points in each country in order to maximize results. Some of the good practices that led to the positive outcomes presented by the panelists were the engagement of national governments in the programme, the inclusion of men in the JP’s activities, the adoption of innovative approaches for climate resilience and assessing the programme’s impact with advanced data collection tools such as the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index. Indeed, the importance of a sound monitoring and evaluation system was of one of the key issues discussed by speakers and participants in order to track the JP’s significant results and advocate for a scale-up of the activities. The importance of literacy and numeracy courses as part of a broader capacity development plan of women beneficiaries was also highlighted.

Key outcomes/take away messages

The JP RWEE has shown the key role of dedicated staff in implementing jointly, and the great value of knowledge exchange opportunities among relevant stakeholders to draw lessons that can be used for future activities aimed at empowering women. In the framework of the JP’s four main outcome areas, it has proven to be crucial to remain flexible at the national level to respond to specific needs and priorities, including unforeseen events as the Ebola crisis in Liberia or the drought in Ethiopia. The take away message was that the JP had very positive outcomes in all countries and the programme has great potential to be scaled-up should additional funding become available. Indeed, the number of women who can be reached with the JP can go up to 50,000 women with further financial contributions.