Participation and information

The key to gender-responsive agricultural policy


Prepared by the
Women and Population Division
Sustainable Development Department

for the
High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information
Rome, 4-6 October 1999

Rome, 1999


Table of Contents

Introduction - the issue

1. Gender and participation in agricultural planning

1.1 An overview of different types of agricultural planning

1.2 Participation

1.3 Tools and methods to analyse diversity

Participatory rural appraisal (PRA)

Gender analysis

1.4 Strategy for gender-responsive agricultural planning

2. Gender Responsive Policy and Institutions

2.1 Policy-making

2.2 Institutional responsiveness

3. Social and economic trends affecting agriculture and rural Development - impact on rural women's livelihoods and work

3.1 Social trends

3.2 Economic trends

4. Concluding remarks




The end of the century had been characterized by a process of liberalisation of trade and market for food and other products, increasing privatization of resources and services, reorientation of economic policies under structural adjustment programmes and increased commercialization of agriculture. Clearly these trends have an impact on farmers, both women and men, and information on how these factors influence their livelihoods is an important tool in agricultural policy planning. Democracy calls for more participation, better-informed citizens, good governance and accountability. These are conditions that we are requesting from our decision-makers.

Development agencies are increasingly using more participatory methods, born from the technical developments of the new information and communciation era. The availability of information and the speed at which it circulates are influencing the mechanisms of social control and regulation. To ensure agricultural policy and planning that will meet the needs of the people, we have to create an understanding of the situation and activities of rural women and men. When gathered, produced and used accurately, information about rural populations can serve as a strong support to achieve food security as well as sustainable development for all. Nevertheless, rural women form a segment of the population that has insufficient access to the flow of information and is not consulted in central government decision-making processes

A continuum of United Nations conferences and summit meetings have served as a cohesive vehicle to enhance the role of women as agents for social transformation and development. With the aim of giving added momentum to this process, FAO has organized the High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information, which will take place from 4 to 6 October at FAO headquarters. Results obtained from the Consultation, an important event in the follow-up to the World Food Summit, will make a unique contribution to the mid-term evaluation of the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing +5).

It is our hope that the Consultation will contribute to raising awareness of the benefits that agricultural policy and planning can derive from both accurate information and the involvement of the stakeholder in development

Henri Carsalade
Assistant Director-General
Sustainable Development Department


The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Information Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

FAO 1999