Bridging the gap
Today, the spectre of hunger has returned to many developing countries. The number of undernourished people has risen above one billion, or one sixth of humanity. The international community faces other daunting challenges, including the global economic downturn, plummeting levels of trade and investment, growing scarcity of natural resources, and the impact of climate change. We cannot overcome those challenges while age-old, ingrained ideas of gender roles deny women’s full participation in decision-making and social and economic development. Rural women make up the majority of the world’s poor. Much of their work as household providers and agricultural producers is unpaid, making their contribution virtually invisible. They have far less access than men to land ownership, financial services, training and other means of increasing agricultural production and improving family income, nutrition and health. Women and female-headed households are disproportionately affected by economic recession and higher food prices. Social and economic inequalities between men and women undermine food security and hold back economic growth and advances in agriculture. That is why FAO’s new strategic framework identifies gender equity in access to resources, goods, services and decision-making in rural areas as one of the Organization’s key objectives for the next 10 years. Gender equity will be essential to implementing the decisions of the World Summit on Food Security, held in Rome in November 2009. By mainstreaming gender equity into all of its programmes for agriculture and rural development, FAO aims at strengthening the impact of its support to member countries, and achieving the goals of gender equality, the eradication of hunger and poverty, and food security for all.