FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Towards gender-transformative interventions in the agricultural and rural sector in NENA region

20 November 2022, Cairo - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the Near East and North Africa (RNE) organized a three-day training titled “Towards gender-transformative interventions in the agriculture and rural sector in the NENA region” in collaboration with expert trainers from ITC-ILO. 

This is the first regional gender training organized by FAO RNE bringing together 47 participants from 16 countries from FAO staff and experts from ministries. The training aims to strengthen participants’ awareness and capacities to design and implement gender-responsive and gender-transformative interventions in the priority areas of work of FAO in the region. 

In his opening remarks, Dr Abdulhakim Elwaer, Assistant Director General, FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa highlighted that this event expresses FAO’s intention to “walk the talk” and enhance the quality of our work on gender equality, in close collaboration with our main partners: the governments, the ministries and the national institutions we work with at country level and in the field. 

Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture, value chains and rural development is central to FAO’s goal of eradicating hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. In the NENA region, women fulfil crucial roles in agri-food value chains as farmers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders, ensuring food security and nutrition at community and household levels. This is why women empowerment has been indicated as a central element of FAO work in the region, as highlighted in the report of the Regional Conference for the Near East, Baghdad, February 2022. Yet, their role and potential are still constrained by persisting inequalities and discriminations, which limit their rights, access to and control over assets, services, and opportunities.

Thus, promoting women’s empowerment and closing the existing gender gaps has become an urgent priority and an essential element to maintain food security in and support agriculture and rural development in the region. To help mainstreaming gender into its programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has developed a regional strategy on gender. A network of Gender Focal Points (GFPs) has been established to support the delivery of gender-related work in the region. The collaboration between GFPs and national institutions is essential to implement a coherent programmatic approach towards the goals of gender equality and women’s empowerment and establish common policy objectives that protect rural women and men’s rights. Consolidating the collaborations and partnerships between FAO and national governments is critical to contribute to advancing the gender equality agenda in the region.

Surveys have often highlighted how limited awareness and capacity to use available tools and approaches hinder the formulation and implementation of gender-transformative interventions in the agricultural and rural sector. The organization of trainings that target both FAO staff and national counterparts has been requested by several Country Offices (COs) to facilitate learning and collaboration on this area, including at policy level. Well-designed and innovative capacity development programmes, in fact, provide an excellent opportunity to strengthen institutional capacities for gender-responsive analysis, planning, and monitoring, while reinforcing the relationships between the FAO offices and the national counterparts. They also create opportunities for policy dialogue and reform, while promoting stronger horizontal collaboration within the network and with the ministries involved.

To respond to these issues and building on the knowledge and experience of the participants, they will have the opportunity to learn about existing gender-transformative approaches and methodologies and understand their application requirements at the various steps of the project lifecycle. Through case studies and practical examples, participants will have the chance to practice how to formulate and implement interventions that effectively address gender inequalities in different technical areas of work, such as agri-food value chain development, natural resource management and climate change adaptation.