International Women's Day - Five years after Beijing

FAO/17670/A. Conti
In developing countries, women are highly visible working in the fields, but when it comes to agricultural statsitics they remain largely invisible.


It has been five years since the UN Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, and this year's celebration of International Women's Day (8 March) offers a chance for reflection on what has been achieved. In June, a special session of the UN General Assembly will review the progress made to date in implementing the Platform for Action adopted at the Beijing Conference. FAO will be present at this session, informally known as Beijing + 5, to make sure that the issues of rural women especially in developing countries are not forgotten.

"Information and advocacy are at the heart of the Organization's activities to promote gender equality," says Marie Randriamamonjy, Chief of FAO's Women in Development Service. Ms. Randriamamonjy stresses that "compiling accurate sex-disaggregated data about food production is essential if we hope to make sure that rural women are not neglected when governments set their policies and priorities." She also points out that FAO's role in this area is extremely important because the need for this information is particularly acute for agricultural policy-makers and planners in the developing world. There, the work of women is often vital to maintaining household food security, but their work usually is not part of the formal economy, so it remains statistically invisible.

FAO Photo
The High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information raised awareness about the importance of collecting and communicating accurate sex-disaggregated data about food production.

To raise awareness of the importance of gathering and disseminating data showing the disparities between men and women, Mr. J. Diouf, the Director-General, decided to organize a High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information at FAO headquarters in October 1999. This Consultation took place within the global framework for follow-up to the World Food Summit and the implementation of the FAO Plan of Action for Women in Development.

By bringing together decision-makers and representatives of civil society and the media, the Consultation generated a productive dialogue on the formulation of a Strategy for Action to improve information on, for and with rural women. The Strategy for Action will be an important component of the next plan of action on gender to be submitted to the FAO Conference in 2001.

FAO's Gender and Food Security web site also helps to get out the message about the importance of sex-disaggregated information in the fight against hunger. This year's International Women's Day marks the site's first anniversary.

For the first International Women's Day of the new millennium, FAO has organized a series of presentations on gender issues and food security. The event will include a message from Mr Diouf and presentations by FAO's three newly appointed female Assistant Directors-General. The themes that will be addressed include agricultural development and gender in the new millennium and diversity in human resource development. A technical seminar will address the disaggregation of nutrition data on the basis of gender.

 8 March 2000

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