The majority of the world's 1.5 billion poor and food insecure live in rural areas and largely depend on agriculture and land-based productive resources, including forestry and fisheries, for their livelihoods. The creation of decent rural employment opportunities in the rural agricultural and non-agricultural sectors that deliver a fair income, security in the workplace, social protection, prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom to organize and participate in labour decisions, and equality of opportunity and treatment for women and men is critical for poverty and hunger reduction and sustainable rural development.
The Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division (ESW) is FAO’s corporate focal point for rural employment and leads the Organization’s work under Strategic Objective G and under its rural employment strategy to support enabling environments for rural markets and the creation of decent rural employment, including self-employment and wage labour in small-scale and commercial farming, fishing, forestry, agro-industries and market-oriented rural infrastructure.
As such, the Division provides research and analysis, advisory services and capacity development to support the integration of decent rural employment concerns within the policies and programmes of Member Countries, FAO units and, as an active member of the UN's Delivering as One Initiative (DaO), within UN system-wide policy initiatives.
Partnerships with UN agencies and other institutions are an essential component of FAO’s rural employment strategy. The Division spearheads FAO’s partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other organizations on food, agriculture and decent work, which works to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development by supporting the creation in rural areas of decent work opportunities. To achieve this, the partnership focuses on promoting fairer and more gender-equitable employment and youth employment, on eliminating child labour in agriculture and on fostering stronger linkages between rural and urban areas.
As part of its work on youth employment, the Division has developed the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) dedicated to the development of agricultural, life and entrepreneurship skills for young people.