Building smart solutions to advance equal opportunities for women and girls

FAO, WFP and IFAD mark International Women’s Day

Joint FAO/IFAD/WFP News Release

8 March 2019, Rome - A group of prominent women joined the three Rome-based United Nations agencies today, to mark International Women's Day at an event recognising women's contributions to building smart solutions for those who are excluded from decision making and influencing development in all sectors.

A vibrant discussion saw Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; Giulia Blasi, Italian author and journalist; Minna Salami, Finnish-Nigerian author, blogger and social critic; and Sarah Jane Morris, British singer and songwriter share their vision for a gender-equal society where women will thrive.

The event - jointly organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) - focused on this year's UN theme for International Women's Day: "Think equal, build smart, innovate for change". 

"We know that creating a world with Zero Hunger requires empowering more women and girls, with programmes that educate and build economic opportunity," said WFP Executive Director, David Beasley. "We must work harder at this because right now progress is being held back in so many places where women aren't given the opportunities that they should have. That's why every day, WFP is helping millions of women tap their full potential and improve their own lives, the lives of their families, communities and nations."

"Equality for women is a cornerstone in building a world without hunger and poverty, which is why it is one of IFAD's four mainstreaming themes," said Gilbert F. Houngbo, IFAD President. "Half of the participants in the projects IFAD supports are women. We have seen transformative results through our approach of working at the household level to promote equitable relations and a fair division of labour and decision-making for the entire family."

"Innovations in technology, services and infrastructure have great potential to advance gender equality and rural women's empowerment," said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo. "We must continue to work together to help remove the structural and socio-cultural barriers that hinder women's and girls' ability to exercise their rights and freedoms."

FAO, IFAD and WFP work globally to tackle gender-based discrimination against women and girls, so that men and women have the same rights and can enjoy equal access to services, resources, and opportunities - which are vital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including Zero Hunger by 2030.

The three UN agencies work in synergy across their programmes to close the gender gap in agriculture by enhancing women's economic empowerment and their role in rural development.  They are implementing, together with UN Women, the  joint programme "Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women" - JP RWEE - which since 2014 has reached 51 180 people (40 227 women and 10 953 men), as well as over 465 000 household members (directly and indirectly) in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda. By helping to improve women's food security and nutrition, increase their income and enhance their decision-making power, while at the same time encouraging policy environments that are conducive to women's economic empowerment, the JP RWEE is promoting sustainable rural development and the achievement of Agenda 2030.  

Photo: ©FAO/Riccardo Gangale / FAO
“Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” is this year's theme for International Women’s Day.