Gender and development People

Posted December 1996
Valid until December 2001
As of January 2002, renamed Gender and Development Service (SDWW)

The Women in Development Service (SDWW)

Women and Population Division
Sustainable Development Department
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy

THE WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT SERVICE (SDWW) focuses on the implementation of the FAO Plan of Action for Women in Development in order to address the major goals of FAO and Member Nations in relation to agricultural and rural development. Specifically, to stimulate growth with equity while reducing rural poverty and achieving food security, through the provision of adequate and equitable access to productive resources and essential supporting services to both rural women and men. Through its Programme of Work and Budget (PWB), the Service concentrates its efforts in the following key areas.

WID/Gender Training and National Capacity Building

Developing and disseminating tools, methods and training in socio-economic and gender analyses in order to increase the capacity of FAO and Member Nations to take into account the specific concerns of rural women and men in development programmes and projects.

Policy Advice, Programme and Project Planning

Emphasizing participatory policy and planning advice to Member Nations; formulating national WID strategies; strengthening WID machineries or units capable of designing and implementing programmes for rural women; assisting in reducing or eliminating legislative, administrative, socio-economic and behavioural obstacles to rural women's access to productive resources and services; and, promoting women's skills, capacities and opportunities to participate in decision-making processes affecting their socio-economic and political status.

Home Economics, Farm Households, Food and Technology

Promoting Resource Management Systems for small farm households and strengthening communications systems between communities through the reorientation of the curricula of agricultural and home economic training institutions. Emphasis is also placed on the development and provision of technologies for rural women, on food security issues, and on the expansion of rural employment opportunities for women, including agro-industries and rural services in the formal and informal sectors.

Women, Environment and Sustainable Development

Responding to recommendations in the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21 of UNCED, especially Chapter 24: "Global Action for Women Towards Sustainable and Equitable Development". Action-oriented research focusing on analyzing the impact of environmental problems and of urban-rural migration and linkages on women's livelihoods and the well-being of their families, including the relationships between population policies and practices and environmental sustainability. Attention is drawn to rural women's potential and actual management roles in biodiversity and sustainable resource use in such areas as soil conservation, irrigation and watershed management, shallow waters and coastal resources management, integrated pest management, land use planning, forest conservation and community forestry.

Data Collection , Information and WID/Gender Statistics

Supporting the collection, compilation, analysis, and diffusion of data and statistics disaggregated by gender and the development of indicators on women's participation in agriculture and related fields; the relationship between rural women's status and demographic dynamics; the constraints to the participatory involvement of rural women in development activities; and, the roles and contributions of rural women in achieving poverty reduction, building food security and attaining sustainable development.

SDWW is also the unit responsible for coordinating the implementation of FAO's Plan of Action for Women in Development (1996-2001). The Service acts as the Secretariat to the inter-Departmental Committee on Women in Development (COWID), and it provides assistance to FAO's Technical Divisions to improve and accelerate the mainstreaming of WID/gender concerns. Over the past several biennia, the emphasis has shifted from WID/gender-oriented development projects (approximately 70 in 1991 and 10 in 1996) to support for more normative activities with a global perspective. Through it's focus on the above key areas, SDWW aim to:

  1. present a more complete depiction of rural women, so that their conditions and contributions to the economy and to society are valued, recognized and integrated into planning mechanisms
  2. contribute to rural women's empowerment through capacity building activities and training
  3. increase the awareness by governments and policy makers to gender-based equality and accelerate the process of moving from words to deeds in the inclusion of gender issues in macroeconomic policies
  4. address the vital role that women play in food production and food security and affirm the need for the full participation of women at all levels in order to achieve sustainable development

More information on the activities and outputs of the Service can be found at:

SD Dimensions/People/Gender in development

Women in Development Service (SDWW)
Sustainable Development Department (SD)
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
Tel: +39 06 570 55102
Fax: +39 06 570 52004 or +39 06 570 53152

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