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Press Release 00/33


Rome, 5 June –Considerable progress has been made in promoting gender equity in rural communities, but gender stereotypes and imbalance in the  division of labour and responsibiliies within the household and the economic production activities continue to prevail in many countries of the world, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement released today.

Lifestyles and practices are gradually changing, according to FAO’s Director of the Women and Population Division, Sissel Ekaas, speaking on the occasion of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly for the Beijing+5 Review.
“Social, economic or legal gains need to be consolidated and further expanded,” she said. 

From the “Gender and Development” strategy that takes into account the roles of both men and women in the rural community, how they differ, their interrelationship and the different impacts that policies and programmes have on them, FAO has moved forward in promoting a more holistic approach to gender issues by including the analysis of socio economic factors at micro, intermediate and macro levels.

“This new conceptual framework and approach has represented a challenge for FAO to provide more gender-balanced policy and technical advice to address development needs of the rural population in member countries,” Sissel Ekaas said.

FAO’s Plan of Action for Women in Development (1996-2001) was adopted by the FAO Conference in November 1995 after it was presented as the Organization’s framework for implementation of the Platform for Action, a major outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, in September 1995.

At the World Food Summit in Rome one year later, the Heads of State and Government and Representatives of 185 countries committed themselves to foster equitable participation of women and men, and to adopt legislation guaranteeing women access to and control of productive resources. Women make up a substantial majority of people working on the land in developing countries.

"The Summit recognized that the role of rural women will be crucial towards a two-fold objective : halving the number of some 800 million undernourished people by the year 2015 and ensuring that the world can feed the 3 billion more inhabitants it will have by 2030," said Assistant Director-General Kay Killingsworth, FAO's Special Adviser on follow-up to the Summit.  "Today, rural women's vital contribution to social and economic development is well-documented.  Now we need to move from knowledge to action, especially by removing the constraints they so often face, and facilitating their even greater contribution to food production and food security." 

Today, five years after Beijing, the Parliaments of Hungary, Tunisia and Ghana are among those who have passed National Action Plans for the Integration of Rural Women in Development, as inspired and promoted by the FAO Plan of Action for Women in Development. Other member countries, mainly countries-in-transition, have initiated a revision process of their Action Plans with FAO as a leading facilitator, while surveys and studies on gender equity in the rural world continue to be encouraged in both developed and developing countries.

When taken into account by rural planners and policy-makers, women can produce tangible and sustainable improvements in the quality of rural life at the household, community and national levels. “Therefore, agricultural planning should make full use of existing human resources, in particular rural men and women,” Ms. Sissel Ekaas said. “Only then will there be a chance of achieving sustainable agricultural development, with the aim of increasing productivity and overall production, securing the preservation of natural resources, increased incomes, new jobs, improvement in levels of household food security and adequate levels of nutrition.”


For more information please contact the following website:
or call Liliane Kambirigi, Media Officer, Media Relations Branch,  tel: 0039-06-5705 3223, e-mail:

Beijing +5 Review - Gender equality encouraged in Sweden's Development policies

In a statement released at a High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information preparing the Beijing+5 Review, last 4-6 October 1999, in Rome, Ms. Margareta Winberg, Minister for Agriculture and for Equal Opportunities of Sweden, pointed out the importance of gender-desegregated data for efficient rural development planning.

You can listen to or download an excerpt of the Swedish Minster's statement.

In Realaudio (108 Kb- Instant play):

In mp3 (Broadcast quality,to be downloaded, 391Kb:

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If you can't download, please call for a feed: Eric Deleu (radio unit) 039-06-5705 6863 / 3594.

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