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Information as a means of

Successful dialogue, exchange of points of view and establishment of consensus between rural populations and policy-makers all depend on people having similar capacities and access to information. This sharing of information is imperative for constructive communication among stakeholders when development plans are being designed in a collaborative manner.

In a context of degradation and reduction of natural resources and biological diversity, it is indispensable to know and recognize strategies and techniques for conserving the resources used by rural populations, particularly women. Policy-makers must be receptive to indigenous knowledge and agree on priorities for action, in cooperation with rural communities. In this way, men and women can influence the orientation and nature of development programmes, and can become effective stakeholders who exercise decision-making powers. Involving the rural population as partners in the planning process can encourage the emergence of innovative mechanisms (at the level of cooperation, power delegation, management, etc.) and the design of appropriate policies.

Participation and information in agricultural and rural development, in our view, are necessary for a gender-responsive agricultural policy.

Delegate of Nigeria

The two-way flow of information can be facilitated by civil society organizations whose mandate and working methods contribute to improving communications among the stakeholders. These organizations frequently establish broad-ranging networks, using communications media that are accessible to different publics. Knowing that not all stakeholders necessarily use the same language and communication channels, civil society organizations often act as mediators, packaging data and information in order to reach their audiences more effectively.

In addition to the right and opportunity to exchange opinions and communicate with policy-makers, rural women should, more importantly, participate in the management of rural affairs as well as in the rural policy- and decision-making ....

Delegate of China

Rural women are particularly concerned about making their own opinions heard and listened to. To achieve this, they really need means of communication that are geared to their own situation and easily accessible. Positive experiences in this regard7 include, in particular, rural and community radio, video and traditional means of communication (drama, puppets, etc.). With access to information and communications technologies, women are empowered, their skills are enhanced, their knowledge increased and, thus, their sphere of action is extended.

The information should not only be about rural women; it should be for rural women and for men as well.

Delegate of the Islamic Republic of Iran

In the area of participatory planning based on interactive communication among stakeholders, information as a means of empowering rural populations, particularly women, depends on the following measures.

FIGURE 3: Numbers of radio and television receivers in selected regions and groups of countries


Discussions of land rights typically focus on statutory or legal rights of ownership .... It may thus be necessary to move beyond standard legalistic interpretations of property rights, to recognize a broad spectrum of customary rights and practices, the different bundles of rights that men and women may have to use and manage resources, and how these are negotiated and change over time ....

Accurate and appropriate gender-disaggregated information on women's property rights can be used to design sustainable agriculture projects through the following mechanisms:

  • mapping both legal and customary rights, particularly rights of use, will help identify groups which may be affected by proposed interventions, and help them renegotiate rights to resources;

  • understanding the distribution of rights may help identify factors other than gender, such as caste, class and ethnicity, which may affect the willingness and ability of people to participate in projects, as well as the distribution of benefits;

  • where land rights are linked to rights to water and other natural resources, encouraging policy-makers and planners to assess the indirect effects of attempts to change rights to one resource;

  • making women aware of legal reforms designed to protect or strengthen their rights and of how to make sure these are enforced.

  • Source: Extracted from Agnes Quisumbing. 1999. The generation and use of information on women's land rights in the design of sustainable agriculture projects. Presentation made at the High-Level Consultation panel discussion on Gender and Equality in Policies and Planning: Nature and Scope.

Immediate measures

Identifying national networks that disseminate information on, for and with rural women, and supporting their connection to regional and global networks in order to strengthen South-North and South-South dialogue.

Analysing the information transmitted (content and format) and the mechanisms for its diffusion in order to improve interactive communications strategies.

Creating an environment in which rural women are encouraged to join networks that enable them to make their opinions heard and to voice their priorities in their own terms with their own modes of communication.

Examining the capacity of these networks to package and disseminate information for rural women.

Using both modern and traditional means of communication, particularly radio, to strengthen rural women's participation in decision-making processes.

Creating women-specific information centres that focus on providing documentation, advice and research and emphasize the knowledge and skills of rural women (through exhibitions, debates, films, publications, etc.).

Longer-term measures

Training rural women in information technologies that are tailored to their own environment and their potential.

Organizing meetings and round-table discussions for all stakeholders at which decision-makers can discuss and account for the degree to which the interests and needs of women agricultural producers are considered
in policies.

Supporting the setting up of rural women's networks that are designed to enable them to diversify their productive activities and enter into the dynamics of economic processes.

Internet users worldwide

Country, region or group of countries

Regional population
as a percentage of world population

Internet users
as a percentage of regional population

United States



OECD (excluding United States)



Latin America and the Caribbean



Southeast Asia and the Pacific



East Asia



Eastern Europe and the CIS*



Arab States



Sub-Saharan Africa



South Asia






Notes: The Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, the Republic of Korea and Turkey are included in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

* CIS = Commonwealth of Independent States.

Source: UNDP. 1999. Human Development Report, 1999. New York, United Nations Development Programme.

7 On this subject reference can be made to a document prepared for the High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information: FAO. 1999. Voices for change: rural women and communication. Rome.

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