| C 99/INF/21
Rome, 12-23 November 1999
SIXTH PROGRESS REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PLAN OF ACTION FOR WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT
II. THE PLAN OF ACTION
III. SUBSTANTIVE ACTIONS TO IMPLEMENT THE PLAN
A. DEVELOPING AND UTILISING METHODOLOGIES, TOOLS AND TRAINING ACTIVITIES TO ASSIST DEVELOPMENT SPECIALISTS IN FAO AND MEMBER NATIONS IN INTEGRATING A GENDER PERSPECTIVE INTO AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT APPROACHES
IV. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PLAN AT THE INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL
V. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION ISSUES
1. An Information Note on the Fifth Progress Report on the implementation of the FAO Plan of Action on Women in Development was presented to the 29th Session of the Conference, in November 1997 (C/97/INF/18). The Conference requested that a Sixth Progress Report be prepared for its 30th Session in November 1999. This Report illustrates the progress achieved to date in the implementation of the Plan of Action for Women in Development.
2. The revised Plan of Action for Women in Development (1996-2001), approved during the 28th Session of the Conference in November 1995 (C 95/14/SUP/1), outlines a framework for integrating a gender perspective within FAO's programmes and activities. The main focus is to stimulate growth with equity while reducing rural poverty and achieving food security, through the provision of adequate and equitable access to productive resources and essential supporting services to both rural women and men. The Plan defines the role the Organisation plays in stimulating and facilitating efforts, both in-house and with our partners at the national level, to overcome constraints and take advantage of opportunities to increase the involvement in agricultural and rural development of both rural women and men, as contributors to and beneficiaries of economic, social and political development. The Plan reflects international initiatives concerning rural women as incorporated in the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies and the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women. It also contributes to the follow-up of the World Food Summit (WFS) by highlighting the need to design and implement gender-responsive policies and programmes in order to achieve sustainable development and food security.
3. Promoting development that is economically efficient, environmentally friendly and gender balanced requires a complete re-orientation of development approaches to enhance women's capacities on an equal footing with men. To achieve this goal, in the past biennium, FAO has continued to develop innovative and successful interventions oriented towards increasing rural women's access to, and control of productive resources; participation in decision-making and policy-making at all levels; reducing their workload and enhancing opportunities for remunerated employment. Due to space limitations this section presents only a representative sampling from four inter-related areas of intervention as indicated below.
4. Considerable progress has been made in this area by FAO, particularly with regard to the development of tools to assist both the integration and acceptance of gender concerns in the work of specific technical units. In this context, a number of gender sensitisation packages have been developed. The Agricultural Support Systems Division has developed a gender awareness package called `Making each and every farmer count- participation in agricultural engineering'. It contains case studies and suggestions on how to incorporate gender issues into agricultural engineering projects. The Rural Development Division has published culturally adapted gender sensitive resource books and manuals on group promotion, group enterprise management and co-operative development. The Forestry Policy and Planning Division's Gender Analysis and Forestry Training Package for Asia has been adapted for Central America and translated into Spanish. Plans are also underway to translate the package into French and Chinese.
5. In December 1997, the Women and Population Division organised a workshop entitled "Gender and Participation in Agricultural Planning: Harvesting Best Practices". The aim of the workshop was to evaluate experiences in gender sensitive participatory rural appraisal, in ensuring women a voice in cultures where men dominate decision-making, in training extension agents to work with rural people, and in setting up mechanisms for needs-based planning processes. The Division is in the process of finalising a "Gender responsive participatory agricultural development planning package", based on the outcome of the workshop. It consists of key issues papers and planning framework, training materials, country case studies, the workshop report and a video.
6. The Socio-economic and Gender Analysis (SEAGA) initiative is the Women and Population Division's largest single activity in the PWB. Its major objective is to enhance the capacity of Member Countries to undertake participatory socio-economic and gender analysis. It is designed to assist development professionals by providing the necessary diagnostic and methodological tools to mainstream gender and other socio-economic concerns. The aim is to strengthen analytical and managerial methodologies and tools at the macro, intermediate and field level. SEAGA provides a set of practical tools and methods for undertaking socio-economic and gender analysis and training in their use. Plans are underway for the joint development with relevant technical units of issue specific or sector specific guides in the areas of project planning and implementation, statistics, nutrition, plant genetic resources, biodiversity, animal health systems, micro-finance and farm power and agricultural production technology. A sector-guide on irrigation has already been developed and is currently being tested in the field. Since 1997, the SEAGA methods, tools and materials were tested, adapted and used widely in training of trainers sessions in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Near East.
7. In addition to the on-going gender-sensitive training initiatives undertaken under SEAGA, other training initiatives have been carried out by various Divisions. The Food and Nutrition Division regularly holds workshops, at the regional and sub-regional level, that promote the participation of women in problem analysis and in the implementation of activities that affect them. The Division has also developed guidelines, manuals and a video that promotes a gender-sensitive participatory nutrition approach. The Land and Water Development Division, in order to facilitate women's equitable participation in water interventions, has trained women members in water users' associations in Zambia, Nepal and Cambodia.
8. Several activities have been undertaken to enhance women's organisational, technical and entrepreneurial skills and capacities to enhance opportunities for remunerated employment and income generation activities. The Rural Development Division has explored the dynamic issues around income diversification in a pilot project in India, Mexico and Mozambique. Recognising the gender differentials in income access, the project focused on working with local institutions to initiate collective action for enabling the individuals within a household to increase their income. The Commodities and Trade Division's projects in the area of bee-keeping, post-harvest technology for fonio processing have proven to benefit women financially as they constitute the majority of the workforce in this sector. The Food and Nutrition Division has organised, in selected countries, training for women entrepreneurs in the cottage food industry and in food hygiene as regards food preparation and sale. The Regional Office for the Near East provides assistance for income generating activities, such as training and credit, oriented towards traditional activities, recognising that often the needs of women are different from those of men, as women require more technical farming knowledge.
9. As regards the introduction of labour saving technologies for rural women, the Research, Extension and Training Division has developed and implemented a strategy in training farmers as trainers in modern rice production technologies. As a result of introducing modern technology, the effort and time required by women to produce rice under rainfed conditions was greatly reduced. The Agricultural Support Systems Division, in collaboration with IFAD and FARMESA carried out a study in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe with the aim to identify constraints and possibilities that women farmers face and improving production tools. The study, published in 1998, is entitled "The potential for improving production tools and implements used by women farmers in Africa" . In November 1998, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific organized an Expert Consultation on "Rural women and technology transfer". The technical consultation provided a forum to explore the achievement to date, and constraints, for technology transfer to Asian rural women and focused on identifying innovative and successful practices that have the potential for replication. As a result, recommendations are in the process of being elaborated for FAO as well as actions at country level to improve rural women's access to technology through innovative methods, including application of distance learning modality.
10. FAO assists Member Nations to design and implement policies and programmes for rural women that reduce or eliminate legislative, administrative, socio-economic, and behavioural obstacles to rural women's access to productive resources and services. The Women and Population Division supported and hosted an inter-agency workshop on "A rights-based approach to women's empowerment and advancement and gender equality" in October 1998. The aim of the workshop was to clarify how the issue of `rights' changes the parameters for both policy formulation and implementation; and to facilitate the shift to an approach where all policies and programmes would be designed, implemented and evaluated directly to promote the enjoyment of human rights by women.
11. At the regional level, alliances are being forged with partner institutions, such as National Ministries for Equal Opportunities or equivalent, donors, universities, research institutes, NGOs and other regional development institutions, that aim to inform policy makers. For instance, through the FAO Regional Office for Africa, selected Member Countries in the region have benefited from a series of training courses strengthening their capacities in socio-economic and gender analysis in order to improve targeting of agricultural development programmes and policies. FAO is currently involved in a project that aims to develop national strategies for integrating a gender dimension in the agricultural sector in Ghana. FAO is providing technical assistance to governmental institutions in order to provide the agricultural sector with the operational tools to ensure a gender focus is incorporated into policy formulation and design. The Women and Population Division provides technical assistance to selected countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen their national institutional capacity to design and implement gender-responsive policies, programmes and projects in the agricultural sector that reduce or eliminate institutional obstacles to rural women's equal access to productive resources and decision making processes.
12. To make informed policy and programme decisions, FAO recognises that it is crucial to have accurate and up-to-date information and data on gender-based constraints and opportunities for rural populations. These are generated from research and analysis, surveys, case studies, and project evaluations. In this context, FAO technical units have pursued initiatives to improve the collection, tabulation, dissemination, and use of data disaggregated by sex. In this context, the Statistics Division, in collaboration with the Women and Population Division, have prepared guidelines, training materials and reviewed existing methodological publications on gender aspects related to agricultural survey design and data collection procedures. They have attempted to improve and highlight the need for data disaggregated by sex in methodological publications. A technical seminar on "Gender and related statistics in agricultural and rural development", organised jointly by the Statistics Division and the Women and Population Division, was held on 8 March 1999. The seminar discussed challenges encountered in producing or using data disaggregated by sex, sharing lessons learned, positive achievements and looked at methodologies, constraints and opportunities for statistical analysis of gender issues in agriculture.
13. Other activities to increase the availability of information on the gender dimensions of agriculture are the publication of documents/studies on the theme of gender issues. In the reporting period, the Agriculture and Economic Development Analysis Division has included in the annual FAO publication "The State of Food and Agriculture" issues in economic and agricultural development that have specific implications for rural women. For instance, in 1998, the theme of gender related aspects in relation to rural non-farm employment and income was covered. The Rural Development Division has undertaken in-depth analysis in ten countries of the socio-cultural and gender imbalances related to farming plots and natural resources. The Division has found that limited access to credit and extension exposure is one of the factors that contribute to gender inequality in these ten cases. In 1998, the Regional Office for Europe published two gender-related studies, one on "Increasing the involvement of young men and women in rural development in Europe" and the other on "Rural development through entrepreneurship".
14. A specific problem addressed by the Research, Extension and Training Division is the lack of data and information available on women's role in agricultural research. There is also inadequate knowledge of the technology needs and priorities of rural women to define future research directions. The Division has begun to consider gender issues in research plans and programmes in their advice to a number of National Agricultural Research Centres (NARS). For instance, more data is now available on the sex composition of research staff in such NARS. The Women and Population Division is co-ordinating the LinKS project in the southern African region. The project aims to enhance the understanding and appreciation of local knowledge systems both by male and female food producers, and by those working with them at the community level. The project plans to document experiences and share information about the crucial nexus between gender, biodiversity and local knowledge systems with actors at all levels. The Regional Office for Latin America has undertaken an analysis of data disaggregated by sex in different national statistical databases. Specifically, initiatives were directed towards the revision of the rural statistical system, identifying gender biases present in the main mechanisms and instruments used for rural data collection and analysis.
15. The dissemination of the information aimed at raising awareness on issues concerning rural women is a crucial activity of the Organization, thus, as part of FAO's efforts in this direction, World Food Day and Telefood 1998 was dedicated to the theme of "Women feed the world". The aim was to highlight the critical, yet underestimated, contribution women make to global food security. Preparations included the production of printed and audio-visual materials; media interviews; factsheets on issues related to rural women, such as access to credit; a key issues paper on "Women feed the world"; a CD-ROM containing a multi-media and data collection of material on women in development/gender and food security issues. Then, on 8 March 1999, the first corporate website on "Gender and Food Security" website (http://www.fao.org/gender) was officially launched, representing a one-stop shop for gender issues related to agricultural and rural development, including fisheries and forestry. Further, five regional videos on the theme of "Women feed the world" and fourteen regional radio-features highlighting key issues relating to rural women in agricultural and rural development have been produced.
16. Monitoring of information collected for many projects on a case-by-case basis, where specific gender concerns have been identified, takes place along with appropriate indicators. Furthermore, systematic consideration of gender is now required in all field project evaluations, and guidelines issued in 1998 require a section in all evaluation reports on `gender equality in project implementation and results'. FAO actively participates in the Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality's (IACWGE) efforts in developing a methodological framework for monitoring and evaluating progress in gender mainstreaming and the impact of such efforts.
17. The Director-General established an inter-departmental Committee on Women in Development (COWID) in 1996. Its terms of reference are to provide policy guidance and to facilitate co-ordination and decision-making on substantive and operational matters relating to Women in Development. The Committee meets quarterly and monitors overall progress in implementing the FAO Plan of Action on Women in Development at Headquarters and in the field; reports and provides advice to the Director-General on organisation-wide WID/gender issues; provides a forum to review and clarify inter-departmental issues that arise relating to the implementation of the Plan of Action; and ensures agreement and operational coherence between all concerned regarding Organisation-wide actions for monitoring and implementing the Plan of Action. Gender focal points have been designated in many Divisions and Departments. There is a WID/gender specialist outposted by the Women and Population Division to each of the five regional offices of FAO. These WID officers collaborate extensively with the technical officers at regional and sub-regional levels from other divisions. An important activity of the Committee in 1998 was the preparation for World Food Day celebrations, while in 1999 was the organisation of the first corporate progress review on gender mainstreaming, requested by the FAO Programme Committee.
18. The proportion of women in the professional staff population increased from 18% in 1994 to 20% in 1999. There has been progress in the overall gender balance in FAO, despite the decline in total staff population due to the reduction in the FAO staffing budget. It should be noted that the increases in the number of women in senior management have been six-fold. In order to reach the target of the UN system, FAO would need to increase substantially the number of female professional staff. The Personnel Division has now adopted a new initiative whereby all Divisions have reviewed their staffing situation for 1999 and have established gender targets for professional posts for this year. FAO is currently examining various practices and provisions, which would help make FAO a more gender-sensitive, family supportive organisation.
19. Based on the foregoing discussions, the Conference may wish: