Table of contents





4.1 Food and Nutrition
4.2 Natural Resources 
4.3 Agricultural Support Systems 
4.4 Agricultural and Rural Development Policy and Planning




1. The thirtieth Conference, in November 1999, requested FAO to prepare and submit to its thirty-first session in 2001, the third FAO Gender and Development Plan of Action (2002-2007), which aims to realign concepts, approaches and institutional arrangements with the Gender and Development (GAD) approach now widely adopted in the UN System.

2. The GAD Plan of Action (PoA) reflects relevant recommendations of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women; it echoes the commitments of the 1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action; it integrates the outcome of the 1999 FAO High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information, and responds to the outcome of the June 2000 Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly entitled Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century, (Beijing +5).

3. The Plan's objectives are derived from the global goals and strategic orientations of FAO's Strategic Framework 2000-2015. It constitutes an integral part of the corporate Medium-Term Plan 2002-2007 (MTP) and presents a framework to mainstream a gender perspective into the work of FAO over the coming three biennia.

4. The Plan was prepared through a consultative process involving FAO's technical departments and units, as well as the Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation (PBE). Divisions reviewed selected major outputs of the draft MTP to incorporate more explicitly and visibly a gender dimension.

5. The GAD-PoA's purpose is four-fold:

  1. improve FAO's capacity to assist Member Nations in achieving equitable and sustainable agricultural and rural development by mainstreaming gender issues into the Organization's normative and operational activities;
  2. establish objectives that provide a clear focus for the achievement of measurable and realistic medium-term goals for gender mainstreaming in relevant FAO priority areas;
  3. achieve institution-wide commitment and support in its implementation;
  4. present a framework for FAO's staff at Headquarters and decentralised offices to mainstream gender into their work.

6. The Plan's scope is Organization-wide, encompassing both operational and normative work, as well as relevant institutional processes and mechanisms. While the Plan delineates the Organization's goals, objectives and priority areas for gender mainstreaming , the commitment of Member Nations is vital to achieving its development objectives and a sustained impact.


7. The vision for the FAO Plan of Action 2002 - 2007 is:

"In the coming six years, the capacity of FAO staff to mainstream gender into their work will have greatly improved; knowledge on the gender dimension of agriculture will have increased within FAO and in Member States; the agricultural and rural development policy framework of Member States will be more gender-responsive; ........ and effective supportive mechanisms and monitoring arrangements for gender mainstreaming in FAO will be in place. .... "

8. Recognising that the full and equal participation of women and men in support of development programmes is essential for eradicating food insecurity and rural poverty and enhancing agricultural and rural development, the GAD-PoA identifies the following four medium-term objectives:

Objective 1 :

Promote gender equality in the access to sufficient, safe and nutritionally adequate food.

Objective 2 :

Promote gender equality in the access to, control over and management of natural resources and agricultural support services.

Objective 3 :

Promote gender equality in policy- and decision-making processes at all levels in the agricultural and rural sector.

Objective 4 :

Promote gender equality in opportunities for on- and off-farm employment in rural areas.


9. To pursue these objectives, FAO has identified the following four priority areas for its gender mainstreaming efforts: food and nutrition, natural resources, agricultural support systems, and agricultural and rural development policy and planning.

10. Food and nutrition. Food security is defined by FAO not only in terms of access to and availability of food, but also in terms of resource distribution to produce food and the purchasing power to buy food where it is not produced. Adequate food availability at the national level does not automatically translate into food security at the individual and household levels.

11. Access to natural resources, notably land and water, or the lack of them concern both rural women and men, as they are essential to agricultural production and improving agricultural productivity. Without secure land rights, farmers have little or no access to credit, rural organisations and other agricultural inputs and services, Furthermore, insecure land tenure reduces people's incentives to maintain soil quality because they have no permanent rights to the land.

12. Agricultural support systems. Despite the fact that rural women and men are both active in agricultural production, women have generally been ignored in development programmes that provide agricultural support systems to farmers. Increased access to agricultural support systems, including credit, rural organisations, technology, education, extension and marketing services, is essential to improving the agricultural productivity of both women and men farmers.

13. Since Agricultural and rural development policy and planning seldom reflect and address adequately the different roles and needs of rural women and men, development programmes often achieve less than optimal results, development policy-making processes are now undergoing a transformation to promote greater participation of stakeholders (men and women) in planning and decision-making at all levels.


14. While the organisation-wide GAD-PoA is in nature global, the present Information Document focuses on regional priorities within this overall framework.

4.1 Food and Nutrition

15. ESN will promote nutrition education and other nutrition improvement initiatives in schools and communities explicitly addressing gender issues in the food system of the given society. It will expand its promotion of the community-based nutrition improvement initiative, which is highly participatory and fully incorporates gender issues. ESN will also continue to advocate for addressing gender issues within emergency preparedness and response measures. Nutrient requirements for women are specifically addressed in FAO's biennial expert consultations on human nutrition requirements.

16. Furthermore, ESN will prepare analysis of specific nutrition issues related to gender and report upon these in the Nutrition Country Profiles and the State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) reports. In order to improve the quality and safety of the food supply, ESN will develop relevant manuals, in order to support and advise Member Nations on effective national food control programmes, in which a gender approach will be considered.

17. With regard to Food and Agricultural Information, the ES Department, in particular supported by the Sub-regional Office for Africa (SAFR), will continue to strengthen national-level information systems for the assessment of food insecurity and vulnerability under the global FIVIMS initiative. Under this World Food Summit follow-up activity, the status of population groups vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition will be assessed and monitoring systems will be put in place to assess the progress made of the separate groups. Efforts will be made to monitor food security indicators disaggregated by gender and age for a deeper understanding of the prevalence of food insecurity and malnutrition within households.

18. In the framework of Food and Agricultural Monitoring, Assessments and Outlooks, ES will continue to collaborate with the FAO Global Information and Early Warning System in Food and Agriculture (GIEWS), as well as member states of the Africa region in the monitoring of the overall food security situation at national and regional levels.

4.2 Natural Resources

19. The integration of gender concerns with regard to priorities for the African Region in animal production and health include the targeting of policy changes that aim at balanced employment opportunities for men and women in the livestock sector and the development of improved methods for more effective crop-livestock integration. Special attention is given to the opportunities and constraints of the gender differentiation in livestock management, product development and marketing. Gender-sensitive objectives and guidelines will be developed for conventional livestock production systems, aiming to resolve resource tenure and livestock ownership conflicts.

20. Gender aspects are mainstreamed in most land, soil and nutrient management aspects, such as the national plans of action on integrated soil and plant nutrient management. The "policies and planning of land resources" programme specifically considers gender issues, as the capacity of both men and women farmers to assess land is essential, especially in African regions where the natural land resources endowment is inadequate. Women farmers are trained in the framework of regional soil degradation and erosion control programs and women scientists' participation in research activities is enhanced.

21. Interventions under water resources development and management, seek to promote low-cost, simple and labour-saving water control techniques, which aim at enhancing male and female farmers' productivity while sparing their work force for other productive or domestic activities. In the framework of SPFS (Special Programme Food Security), specific attention is paid to women during group formation and subsequent group activities. Participatory irrigation and water management extension and training programmes ensure the inclusion of female farmers, taking due account of their specific constraints, capacities, felt needs and their willingness to take responsibility for the management of their schemes. Irrigation Management Transfer and private sector participation are the result of governments' increasing inability to invest in, and provide for, sustainable management of irrigation schemes. The AGL Division aims to establish an enabling environment by building the capacity of all stakeholders, including women farmers.

22. Improving the livelihoods of artisanal fisheries communities will be done through the effective implementation of sustainable livelihoods approach using the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF). The activities involved will address gender issues. Regarding the promotion of sustainable fish production and increased fish utilisation, particularly for human food, FII will take into account women's contribution to the industry in the region (especially in fish processing, storage and marketing), in its publications, training materials and manuals providing technical guidance on diversification and improved methods for conservation and storage.

23. In promoting regional collaboration and co-operation in fisheries, FI will encourage the involvement of both men and women in the strengthening of fishery development and management institutions. Technical support to regional and national fishery organisations that conserve, manage and develop marine and inland fisheries resources will give due consideration to all stakeholders (men and women) in the selected fisheries management systems, like for example the development of environmentally sound aquaculture.

24. Major policy decisions on responsible fisheries cannot be made without adequate data on the role of men and women in the fisheries sector. The sex disaggregated data will enhance national fisheries policy development. The information can also be fed into international policies that concern stakeholders in the fisheries sector.

25. Recognising that, in many regions, both women and men have different access to, control and use of trees and lands and are differently affected by the dynamics of resources over time and space, FO considers gender issues among the underlying principles of its actions, as stated in the FAO Strategic Plan for Forestry, paragraph 8. Regarding the African region, gender mainstreaming will be taken up under the following programmes:

Under the Forestry Sector Outlook Studies for Africa, FO intends:

26. Furthermore, FO will support member countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to incorporate gender-sensitive policy concepts in their national forestry strategy, in the framework of the European Union - FAO partnership programme on National Forest and Fiscal Policies as well as in other field initiatives (Senegal, Cape Verde, Burkina Faso, Niger, Zambia, Cameroon). Member countries will be supported in enhancing participation of female and male stakeholders in Natural Resource Management, including formulation of policy, legislation and decisions concerning local resource management and reinforcing linkages between forestry and sustainable livelihoods with special attention to women.

27. In addition, FO will ensure that, where appropriate, gender issues are systematically covered in its publications. For example, this has been done in Women's participation in national forest programs and Guidelines for integrated gender activities, and in the study on Bushmeat Consumption And Trade In West Africa, commissioned by the Regional Office for Africa (RAF).

4.3 Agricultural Support Systems

28. The integration of gender concerns in crop production and protection in the African Region, is pursued by promoting strategies to strengthen seed supply systems, including on-farm seed production and distribution, that will respond to men's and women's needs and preferences. Rural women's seed supply needs will be taken into account when designing strategies for sustainable community-level seed production enterprises. National and regional level seed security programmes and other mechanisms to restore seed systems affected by disasters will take into account specific crops and crop varieties preferred by women. Regionally, forage production will be promoted, particularly in peri-urban areas, to enhance milk production and income generation for poor farmers, among which a majority of women.

29. Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM), the new approach to crop production and protection in Africa, is anchored on a farmer-led participatory training methodology, the Farmer Field School. This methodology consists of gender balanced group formation or in some cases works with women's groups exclusively. There is evidence that FFS can deliver tangible economic benefits at farm level, especially to women farmers.

30. Farming systems development appraises trends and the suitability of technologies for utilisation by gender, raises awareness of how intensification changes resource allocation, income distribution and the relative workloads of women and men farmers and how programmes and policies affect the individual household's welfare in terms of income and food security. This is crucial in marginalised areas with farm households of low resource endowment or post-conflict situations, or in rural areas with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Lastly, AGS will raise awareness of how intensification, diversification and commercialisation impact the relative workloads of women and men farmers and will produce guidelines and information materials on the economics of new production systems, to provide information and guidance for addressing gender implications of such changes, for example in urban and peri-urban agriculture.

31. Regional priority for agricultural engineering is the introduction and promotion of conservation agriculture. It is expected that biological tillage eventually replaces mechanical tillage, which will significantly reduce labour inputs especially in activities carried out by women, such as weeding. Secondly, regional promotion of safe spraying equipment and application techniques is of paramount importance, since accidental misuse is widespread and may affect women's health directly as well as increase their responsibilities in health care.

32. Rural finance uses a holistic approach to rural finance that looks at farm families' needs and socio-economic environment when evaluating loan applications, which will automatically address women's (and men's) specific situation. AGS will further promote the establishment of financial services for the introduction of low-cost technologies, for example in irrigation and horticulture, which will also have a positive impact on women's economic, social and physical well-being. Furthermore, the French version of FAO's Microbanker for Windows software for micro-finance and rural finance institutions, will be developed, including possibilities to track basic information on clients and beneficiaries, differentiated by men and women, for future assessment.

33. The Statistics Department will continue to guide member countries to include gender considerations in the collection and tabulation of data, particularly through national agricultural data collection programmes. Aware of the difficulties encountered in the availability and analysis of sex-disaggregated data for use by policy-makers, ESS aims at improving the existing concepts for the collection of data, as well as developing new methods to assess gender contributions in the generation of income that would better inform policy-makers in promoting gender-sensitive programmes for agricultural and rural development. In this regard, numerous countries have already benefited from FAO's support (among which: Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, The Gambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Senegal, Togo). ESS in collaboration with SDW will prepare a "Lessons Learned" document on these experiences, which will allow other Member Countries in the Region to make informed choices about integrating gender concerns in their agricultural data collection programmes.

34. SDA will, under its Rural Development programme, continue to promote improved access to land and other natural resources in a gender-sensitive and environmentally-sustainable manner and to increase tenure security of rights to those resources. It will carry out methodological studies and develop gender-sensitive guidelines for government-assisted land tenure policies to improve access to land by disadvantaged groups, including advice on market transaction policies and institutional support to improve access by the poor.

35. The Division will continue to strengthen the capacities of rural institutions, to ensure more gender-sensitive and equitable delivery of development services to rural constituencies, especially their more marginalised groups (such as the rural poor, youth and the disabled of both sexes). In this regard, RAF aims to expand its programme on Community Technology Transfer Centres (Nigeria, Ghana) to cover, initially, all West African anglophone countries. The Sub-regional Office for Southern and East Africa (SAFR) will give particular attention to strengthening women's access/rights to land in Eastern and Southern Africa and the impact of HIV/AIDS on land tenure with special emphasis on women, in particular AIDS widows.

36. The Agricultural Extension, Education and Communication programme integrates gender in all its work through its focus on the needs of both men and women farmers, including young farmers. In addition, particular emphasis is placed supporting women's food production and processing activities. Work in Africa focuses on:

37. Concerning the African Region, the Research and Technology Transfer programme will focus on helping member nations in identifying research investment priorities and funding requirements to render research programmes relevant to both women and men, thus making them more gender-responsive, effective and efficient. The programme will seek ways to enhance women's integration in decision-making bodies involved in research programming and management from local to national levels. Besides, particular attention will be given to the development of guidelines and tools aiming at a better translation of women-specific problems into research programmes, while enhancing women's participation in on-farm research projects.

38. The Gender and Population Division (SDW) aims to mainstream population and gender concerns into its programmes and policy advise to countries and focuses on human resource development through training and education, the production of methods, tools and guidelines for undertaking population and gender analyses. The Service is FAO's focal point on HIV/AIDS and agriculture related issues, which gives it an "Africa-focus" , the Region where the epidemic is most prevalent to date. Regarding HIV/AIDS, FAO has been:

39. Furthermore, SDW undertakes a number of sub-regional programmes in Africa: the Gender, Biodiversity and Local Knowledge Systems to Strengthen Agriculture and Rural development in Southern Africa (LinKs) which is assisting many organisations to better understand how men's and women's local knowledge can promote the conservation of (agro) biodiversity and enhance food security. (Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique); and the interdivisional Integrated Support to Sustainable Development and Food Security Programme (IP), aims to foster cross-sectoral collaboration and a holistic gender-sensitive approach to sustainable rural development (Uganda, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The Division will continue to develop and implement Socio-economic and Gender Analysis (SEAGA) training of trainers workshops to build capacity for analysis of socio-economic and gender issues in the context of agricultural and rural development policies, programmes and projects.

40. In follow-up to the Beijing Platform for Action, the RAF has supported selected Member Countries (Ghana, Guinea, Togo) to develop a Gender and Agricultural Development Strategy, which identifies strategic interventions for gender mainstreaming by the Ministries of Agriculture, with support of the National Women's Machineries. The recommendations of these documents are at times integrated in the National Poverty Reduction Strategy (Guinea) or may form the basis for a SEAGA training programme (Ghana). Lastly, RAF is investigating how to support Governments to integrate gender concerns into the process of decentralization of public administrations and to strengthen especially rural women to use new opportunities to participate in local decision-making processes.

4.4 Agricultural and Rural Development Policy and Planning

41. While there is a growing appreciation in the Africa Region of the importance of integrating gender concerns in policies and programmes for food security, agricultural and rural development at the micro, meso and micro levels, there remain important gaps in translating this awareness into practical actions and strategies. Some priority areas that the Policy Group of RAF will be addressing are:

42. Moreover, TCA will take into account gender-differentiated analysis and policy measures in its thematic policy and field programme development work and in the preparation of related training manuals. The Investment Centre (TCI) will seek to intensify efforts to mainstream gender in agricultural investment project design and to assist Member Nations in the formulation of gender responsive programmes and the mobilisation of international and national funding hereto. TCO recognises that gender issues constitute a priority during all stages of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) programmes, which will be designed to ensure equitable sharing of benefits and participation of women and men farmers.


43. The implementation of the Plan of Action will be supported at various levels of the Organisation, at Headquarters and in the decentralised offices, by operational arrangements and mechanisms intended to provide advice and coordination.

44. SDW will continue to act as corporate gender focal point and in this capacity support the GAD-PoA, through its monitoring and analytical reporting functions regarding the progress made in the implementation of the Plan, as well as through its support to corporate training programmes for building skills of FAO staff in gender analysis and gender mainstreaming. In addition, through its regular programme of work, SDW will continue to assist FAO member states in mainstreaming gender into their agricultural and rural development policies and programmes.

45. Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the GAD Plan of Action will be integrated in all Regular and Field Programme monitoring and evaluation arrangements: the corporate Medium Term Plan (MTP) is of a rolling nature and, as such, will need to be updated every two years. Each Division will be responsible for reporting on the implementation of their gender-responsive activities. Furthermore PBE will pay due attention to gender issues through links established with Programme Implementation Reports and the Programme Evaluation Reports.

46. Gender-sensitive activities identified under the FAO GAD-PoA will be implemented through the use of Regular Programme resources allocated to the selected major outputs, supplemented by extra-budgetary funds.

47. The 31st session of the Conference unanimously adopted the new FAO Gender and Development Plan of Action (2002-2007) and agreed on its regular reviewing and updating, taking into consideration changing needs. It supported the Plan's focus on promoting gender equality in the four priority areas of intervention: food and nutrition, natural resources, agricultural support systems and agricultural and rural development policy and planning. It also noted that these priority areas need to be linked to health, hygiene, education, and specifically to the problem of HIV/AIDS and youth.