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Women hold the key to building a world free from hunger and poverty

But gender inequality is putting a brake on sustainable development.

Women in Pakistan build their knowledge and skills at an FAO-supported rural livelihoods school.
16/12/2016

Achieving gender equality and empowering women is not only the right thing to do but is a critical ingredient in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

Speaking at a high-level event co-organized by FAO, the European Commission and the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the European Union in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Women, the FAO-Director General said that "Women are the backbone of our work in agriculture," noting that they comprise 45 percent of the agricultural labour force in developing countries, with that figure rising to 60 percent in parts of Africa and Asia.

These numbers underscore the importance of ensuring that rural women enjoy a level playing field, according to the FAO Director-General. "It's all about opportunity. Evidence shows that when women have opportunities, the yields on their farms increase – also their incomes. Natural resources are better managed. Nutrition is improved. And livelihoods are more secured," he said.

This is why rural women are key players in the effort to achieve all of the Sustainable Development Goals - but especially SDG2, freeing the world from hunger and malnutrition - Graziano da Silva added.

Zero Hunger: No way to get it done without women

Neven Mimica, European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, told event participants: "It is often said that if you educate a woman, you educate a whole generation. The same is true when we empower women across the board -not only through access to knowledge, but also to resources, to equal opportunities, and by giving them a voice."

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