Leaving no rural woman behind: ECOWAS and FAO champion the cause of rural women in West Africa

“Rural women should be equal partners in all areas of decision making on food and agriculture,” said Fatimata Dia Sow, ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women 2016.


The International Day of Rural Women provides an opportunity to celebrate rural women’s important roles in food production and processing, food security and nutrition and reduction of rural poverty. This year, it also served as reminder to ECOWAS member countries of their commitment toward the empowerment of rural women, especially in securing access to and control over land, finance, technologies, services and markets.

“The elaboration of the second generation of a National and Regional Agricultural Plan should leave no rural woman behind,” said Fatimata Dia Sow, Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS).  “This is key to achieving ECOWAS’ goals for food security and nutrition, import substitution and resilient agricultural and food systems in the context of climate change.”

ECOWAS member countries have made progress in enacting laws for rural women’s empowerment, but rural women still lag behind in accessing key productive resources essential for food security, nutrition and economic empowerment.

“In this respect, we have embarked on various concrete projects, such as the setting up of business incubators for rural women for growing and enhancing their agricultural productivity, providing agricultural inputs for women farmers and educational scholarship for indigent girls,” added the Commissioner. “We are also committed to addressing barriers to the equal participation of men and women in improving energy access in the region.”

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