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Rural women in Europe and Central Asia: an interview with FAO's Cristina Amaral

Cristina Amaral, Deputy Regional Representative for FAO in Europe and Central Asia, discusses the importance of women's rights and gender issues in the context of FAO's work in the region.


FAO takes women’s rights and gender issues very seriously. Why? 

International evidence and practice have proven that empowering rural women and girls is critical for agricultural development, for social and economic progress, and for sustainable development overall. Women form a significant proportion of the labour force in agriculture. FAO recognizes an important role and contribution from rural women in increasing food security and eradicating rural poverty through agricultural and rural development. Achieving a gender equality goal in itself is part of FAO commitment to women’s human rights as stated in international agreements, particularly the 1979 Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) signed by all FAO member governments in the region, and FAO’s own gender policy.

The status of women in Europe and Central Asia is better than in other regions, right?

While the countries are very diverse when it comes to gender equality, average indicators for Europe and Central Asia do point to higher educational status and higher economic activity rates. But if we break down available data not only by sex, but by location – for example, urban vs. rural – the disparities become evident. And in most of the countries, these disparities are not in rural women’s favour. They earn less, have fewer economic opportunities and as a result, are at greater risk of poverty.

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