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FAO's Gender and Development Plan of Action for the years 2002 to 2007 embodies the continuation of the Organization's longstanding commitment to the equality of opportunities and rights for women and men. The unanimous endorsement of the Plan by the FAO Conference in November 2001 also represents a major step forward in our efforts to translate that commitment into action in the context of the fight against poverty and hunger.

For decades, FAO has championed women's contributions to food production and food security and has spearheaded efforts to remove barriers that limit women's opportunities and their full enjoyment of their rights. This is the third Plan of Action that the Organization has enacted as a way to energize and coordinate analysis and action for the benefit of both women and men.

Under the banner of Women in Development, previous plans covered the periods 1989-1995 and 1996-2001. Both plans focused on increasing women's participation in agriculture and rural development through projects and programmes that targeted resources, training and other services. Both succeeded in raising awareness and increasing support for women's invaluable role in food production, while upgrading their socio-economic status.

With this new Plan of Action, FAO has adopted a new name - Gender and Development - and a new emphasis - gender mainstreaming. The new name, which met a vast international consensus, represents far more than a change in terminology. With the Gender and Development approach, the Organization has defined the different roles and unequal power relations between women and men as a central category of analysis, analysis that will be applied not just to selected «women's projects» but to all of FAO's work, both at headquarters and in the field.

The entire Organization participated in formulating the Plan of Action. The Plan includes specific commitments, with measurable outputs, from 24 technical divisions. More important, it represents an Organization-wide commitment, guaranteed by linking the Plan of Action directly to FAO's Medium-Term Plan and Strategic Framework. This link provides both a mechanism and an obligation for management at all levels to monitor implementation and progress in all of the Organization's areas of work in support of more egalitarian and sustainable rural development.

Jacques Diouf
FAO Director-General

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