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FAO Director-General urges countries to recognize the vital role of rural women in freeing the world from hunger and poverty

Young girls and women collecting water from a water spring situated in a cabbage field owned by a local woman farmer and FAO-EU Project beneficiary in Ethiopia.

A special event looks into ways to achieve gender equality for food security, nutrition and sustainable development.

Rural women and girls are key agents of change to free the world from hunger and extreme poverty, said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today at a special side-event on gender equality and women's empowerment on the sidelines of the 40th Session of the FAO Conference.   

"Their role goes beyond agricultural production and extends throughout the food system but, as we all know, rural women continue to face multiple constraints," he said, noting that they have less access to productive resources and employment opportunities. 

He also stressed that women are more affected by the consequences of conflicts and crises. "During a drought situation, for example, a greater workload is placed on women. In Africa and Latin America, women can spend many hours a day searching for water in times of drought and then need to walk many kilometers carrying a bucket of water on their head," he said.

Graziano da Silva also highlighted the importance of partnerships in supporting rural women. As an example, he cited a joint effort of FAO, IFAD, WFP, and UN Women - the UN Agency specialized in gender. "Together, we are supporting national governments to implement a global programme called "Accelerating progress towards the economic empowerment of rural women". This programme aims to improve rural women's livelihoods in seven countries, including Guatemala, Nepal and Ethiopia," he said. 

"As a result, more women in these countries have been able to open bank accounts in their own names. More women are accessing credit. And more women are running their own individual businesses," the FAO chief added. 

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FAO Gender Programme
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
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