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Promoting gender equality

Although gender equality is an issue that is not specific to the agricultural sector, it is so integral to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its social and economic consequences that it should be a part of any agriculture strategy designed to alleviate the impacts of the epidemic.

Not only are women physically more vulnerable to HIV infection than men, they are also more vulnerable to negative social and economic outcomes as a result of HIV/AIDS because of the inequalities in their access to land, credit, employment, education and information.

In some countries, legislation has been passed providing women with equal inheritance rights to land when their husband dies. While this is an important legal precedent, the enforcement of this law over local customary practices is equally critical. In this regard, the capacity of local officials needs to be supported so they are able to negotiate this delicate process.

Many of the persistent gender issues are "structural" concerns of societies and require a re-negotiation of gender relationships. Re-negotiating often means challenging existing power structures, not only at the local level but through policy and legislation at national and regional levels.

The agriculture sector needs to actively promote gender equality in the areas of its competence, with an emphasis on access to and control over productive resources, including land, credit, knowledge, agricultural inputs and technology.

related links
The Global Coalition on Women
UNAIDS: gender and HIV/AIDS (pdf)
HIV/Gender continuum
FAO SD Dimensions
HIV/AIDS impacts and cross-sectoral responses (pdf)
more FAO publications

  contact:   © FAO, 2006