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The High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information, organized by FAO at its Rome Headquarters on 4-6 October 1999, aimed to discuss ways of better informing decision-makers, media and the public at large on the essential role of rural women in agricultural development and their contribution to food security. Information about the respective roles and tasks and, thus, the different needs and priorities of rural women and men are an important part of the development planning process. Yet too often this kind of information is not available to planners and decision-makers. The High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information provided a forum for various stakeholders to exchange views and share expertise, in order to fill the gaps and promote a synergy between them for a greater efficiency.

In organizing a High-Level Consultation on these issues, FAO hopes to encourage policy and decision-makers to improve both the generation and dissemination of information on rural women. More adequate information for gender-responsive development policies can be obtained by the generation of sex-disaggregated data and gender-specific information through current information sources including statistics, and by strengthening communication channels between rural women and men and decision-makers. Furthermore, the available information should be better disseminated through the various media based on an appropriate strategy to reach policy and decision-makers, as well as the general public. This in order to achieve the goal of social equity and gender equality and meet the challenges of the 21st century.

This Consultation took place within the global framework for follow-up to the World Food Summit, organized by FAO in 1996 in Rome, and the implementation of the FAO Plan of Action for Women in Development.

The specific goals, objectives and expected outcomes of the High-Level Consultation were the following:



Expected Outcomes:

The Consultation brought together Ministers for Agriculture and for Equal Opportunities, as well as observers from the UN, IGO and NGO community. During the Consultation, a Strategy for action was reviewed. In addition to statements from FAO member delegations, two panel discussions were featured with presentations made by personalities and specialists from development agencies, academia, media and civil society.

Through specific examples, based on concrete experiences, the experts explained how information on rural women can be produced and channelled in order to have a lasting impact on policy-making and planning. The panel discussions provided FAO, policy-makers and planners with suggestions on how to improve practices and methodologies in their area of work.

The first panel, entitled Gender Equality in Policies and Planning, focused on better informing policy-makers and planners on the needs and priorities of rural women. The identification of information gaps and requirements was addressed as well as the importance and the generation of gender specific information and sex-disaggregated data to promote a more balanced and equitable society and more efficient poverty alleviation strategies.

The second panel, entitled Dissemination of Gender Specific Information, focused on ways to present and disseminate information related to the role of women in agriculture and rural development. The function and responsibilities of the media in raising awareness of rural development issues, poverty, food security as well as the situation of rural women were examined. Means of disseminating information through traditional and modern media and technologies were also discussed.

The FAO secretariat prepared a series of publications as well as audio-visual materials to support the debate.

This compilation of documents from the High-Level Consultation reflects the content and discussion during the general debate and the technical panel discussions.

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