FAO launches global commitment to enhance gender equality in agrifood systems


Investing in women in agrifood systems in order to close gaps in productivity and wages is crucial to grow the global economy by $1 trillion, reduce hunger for 45 million people, and increase resilience for hundreds of millions of families. Building on these findings from its pivotal report on ‘The Status of Women in Agrifood Systems’, FAO has launched a powerful call to action encouraging stakeholders to commit to significant financing and partnerships that can increase gender equality and women's empowerment in agrifood systems.

The call to action, titled Commit to Grow Equality, is a global process that seeks to bring together governments, philanthropy, the private sector, United Nations and multilateral agencies, civil society organizations and others in a global commitment to make agrifood systems work better for women.

The launch event, hosted by the FAO Liaison Office in New York, took place with high-level speakers and participants in March 2024 on the margins of the 68th session of the Committee on the Status of Women (CSW68) at the United Nations headquarters in New York. It aligned with the CSW68 priority theme on accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.

“Let’s pursue ambitious commitments to realize the food security and economic gains on the table if women are able to fully contribute to agrifood systems around the world,” said Jennifer Klein, Assistant to the President of the United States and Director of the White House Gender Policy Council. She expressed her country’s support for the ‘Commit to Grow Equality’ initiative and highlighted recent examples of U.S. investments and initiatives to advance gender equity and equality.

Bjørg Sandkjær, Vice-Minister for International Development of Norway, welcomed the initiative, noting that “gender equality is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do, and the potential is enormous”. She underscored that women’s economic and political participation is fundamental to economic growth as well as peaceful societies but can only be achieved through increased access to resources, services, technology and opportunities.

Several speakers referenced the recent adoption of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Voluntary Guidelines on Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in the Context of Food Security and Nutrition as an example of the critical importance of multi-stakeholder dialogue and policy convergence. The ‘Commit to Grow Equality’ initiative builds on the momentum created by Member States’ endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines in October 2023 and the publication of FAO’s report just six months earlier.

Addressing participants via video message, H.E. Nosipho Jezile, CFS Chairperson and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Agencies in Rome of the Republic of South Africa, encouraged potential partners to see FAO’s ‘Commit to Grow Equality’ initiative as a vehicle to catalyze action for gender equality and women’s empowerment, convene like-minded stakeholders, and identify synergies and entry points for development programming focused on women. “It is crucial that we join efforts to find effective ways to translate policy guidance into concrete actions that make a tangible difference in the lives of women and girls,” she urged.

Maria da Conceição Dantas Moura, Undersecretary of Rural Women in Brazil, called for member states to implement the Voluntary Guidelines and to increase financing, partnerships and tools in the framework of FAO’s global commitment process. She shared successful examples from her government’s strategy to build the economic independence of rural women, promote sustainable and inclusive food production and tackle climate change.

Representatives of the Netherlands, Türkiye, Ireland and the World Food Programme similarly presented their work to promote gender equality in agrifood systems and endorsed the ‘Commit to Grow Equality’ initiative. A video on transforming social norms in India under IFAD’s Gender Transformative Mechanism in the Context of Climate Adaptation was also shown.

FAO is now working with core and new partners within the contours of a structured process and a matrix of proposed commitments focused on increasing financing for empowering and transformative approaches, as well as specific investment and partnerships in promising solutions, such as accelerating women’s access to land and other assets, and addressing discriminatory social norms.

Commit to Grow Equality’ contributes to FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-31 and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goals 2 (Zero Hunger) and 5 (Gender Equality).