FAO launches major review to improve action on gender

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) is conducting a comprehensive gender review, which will lay the groundwork for the development of a strategy to ensure inclusion of gender-responsive actions into FAO’s work at the national, regional and international levels

© FAO/G. Napolitano

17 February 2010, Rome - How are we doing, and how can we do better? This fundamental query is at the heart of an unprecedented review of the role which gender plays in the structure and operation of FAO, and the way in which the Organization incorporates gender equality into policy advice and the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of agricultural development programmes.

All United Nations agencies, funds and other entities are expected to adhere to system-wide policies to promote gender equality. These include specific mandates for each organization to build its capacity in such areas as the analysis of gender issues, training, knowledge sharing, and the coordination of work methods and objectives. The requirements apply to policy-making, structure and day-to-day work in member states.

As the lead UN agency for agriculture and rural developmfent, FAO recognizes the importance of promoting the full, equal participation of women and men in efforts to improve food security, reduce poverty and fuel social and economic development.

Faced with the spectre of one billion hungry people worldwide, FAO is undergoing the thorough gender review as a crucial step in its determination to strengthen its institutional mechanisms and better fulfil its mission to eradicate hunger and poverty.

FAO underscored the importance of gender issues in November 2009, by listing among its strategic objectives, for the first time, “gender equity in access to resources, goods, services and decision-making in rural areas.”

The idea behind the gender review is to take a thorough look at the strengths, weaknesses, achievements and challenges in FAO’s approach and organizational culture, and to come up with recommendations to improve its effectiveness.

Delivering better results

Social and economic inequalities between men and women exacerbate food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. Research, training, policies and programmes which take into account the distinct roles, responsibilities, needs and capacities of men and women can help to create more effective strategies for agriculture and rural development.

The review, which will involve all units at FAO headquarters and regional, sub-regional and selected offices, will also look at how well FAO partners with other UN agencies on gender issues. It will include a look at FAO’s role in supporting the UN’s Delivering as One pilot initiative, which aims to more closely coordinate development assistance in certain countries.

Other organizations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank, have conducted gender reviews with an eye to strengthening the impact of their work.

Media contact
Charmaine Wilkerson (Rome)
(+39) 06 570 56302
[email protected]