Working together to accelerate results for rural women

An FAO, IFAD, WFP, and UN Women joint programme

07/03/2019 - 

“After expanding the milk business and saving enough, my plan is to purchase another milking cow to increase the supply.” Safaya Kabato, 45-year-old mother of nine children, from Oromia in Ethiopia

The UN Joint Programme for Accelerating Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment (JP RWEE) is a global initiative to improve rural women’s livelihoods and rights in the context of sustainable development. The JP RWEE has been implemented in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda.

Safaya Kabato is a 45-year-old farmer from the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Raised in a community in which milk and milk products were produced for home consumption, it never occurred to Safaya that she could support her family with milk until, through JP RWEE, she took part in a training course on business skills and received a loan. It was a turning point. “Before, I never saved the income from the sale of milk. Now, I have opened a bankbook and saved 1 100 Birr (around USD 55), which I will use to expand the milk business,” says Safaya.

JP RWEE’s approach creates synergies and multiplier effects that go beyond the individual beneficiary, extending to her household and community. As a result of more households buying Safaya’s milk she earned over 2 500 Birr (around USD 125). Some she has saved, and some she has used to buy clothes for her nine children. A unique joint FAO - IFAD - WFP - UN Women programme, the JP RWEE capitalizes on each United Nations agency’s mandate and institutional strength to generate lasting and wider scale improvements in the livelihoods and rights of rural women.

Each agency brings a distinct comparative advantage: FAO’s specialist technical knowledge and policy assistance on agriculture and food security, IFAD’s co-financing of rural investment programmes and innovative tools to promote more equitable intra-household relationships, WFP’s food assistance innovations like “Food for Assets” and “Purchase for Progress,” and UN Women’s strong linkage with the women’s movement and leadership for gender equality and women’s empowerment within the United Nations.

The collaboration aims to respond to the diversity of issues constraining rural women’s economic empowerment, which go beyond the mandate of any individual United Nations entity to tackle alone. JP RWEE focuses on two main groups of women.

First, the most vulnerable, poorest and illiterate women, who are often bypassed by conventional economic empowerment programmes; and second, women entrepreneurs already organized in producer organizations or cooperatives, who have potential to grow their businesses. From the Dimitra Clubs in Niger, to the selfhelp groups in Kyrgyzstan, to the womenled cooperatives in Rwanda, these groups constitute the building blocks of the JP RWEE and the reason for its accomplishments.

By creating institutional alliances that bring together their know-how, resources, experiences and constituencies, the four United Nations agencies together make the JP RWEE more relevant, efficient, effective and sustainable, widening its impact and accelerating its results.

Resource partner: Norway, Sweden, Internal resources of FAO, IFAD, UN Women and WFP

SDG: 1, 2, 8

Regional Initiative: RIF2 - Sustainable Production Intensification and Value Chain Development in Africa

Photo: ©FAO/Filippo Brasesco