Food Coalition

Rural women’s economic empowerment

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, most countries are adopting containment measures to control the spread of the virus. These measures pose particularly daunting challenges for rural women. They are often the guardians of household food security, on top of playing leading roles as agricultural producers, farm managers, processors, traders, wage workers and entrepreneurs. Rural women often depend on informal, short-term or part-time jobs, with low earnings, limited or no social security, and a high degree of vulnerability to economic downturns. COVID-19 has aggravated their situation and their capacity to cope is being squeezed by their limited access to inputs, services and financial resources. With restrictive measures in place in many countries, women’s workload is increasing as a result of school closures and the need to care for older and sick household members.

The sociocultural norms and practices that underpin household gender inequalities mean women and girls often suffer reduced food quality and quantity in a crisis. Moreover, household tensions due to mandatory stay-at-home orders are increasing the risk of gender-based violence against women and girls, as documented in several countries. Gender-based inequalities also mean rural women risk being ignored in COVID-19 responses, though their full engagement is critical to the recovery of agrifood systems and to building more resilient rural livelihoods. Evidence from crises situations suggests that narrowing the gender gap in rural areas is crucial to strengthening countries’ capacity to rebound with more equitable and sustainable growth.

Priority Areas of work: Economic Inclusion and Social Protection to Reduce Poverty
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality, 13. Climate Action, 16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Level: Global
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal
Budget: USD 5 to 10 million

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