Policy Support and Governance Gateway
©FAO/Virginija Morgan


Gender equality and women’s empowerment are crucial to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Women constitute 48 percent of the agricultural labour force in low-income countries and are critical agents of change. As farmers, agricultural workers, food processors, traders, entrepreneurs and community leaders, women play a central role in rural economies, natural resource management and food production – they make great contributions to food security, nutrition and the well-being of families and communities.

Empowering women and achieving gender equality.

Compared to men, women experience greater constraints in accessing resources, services, institutions, markets, decent employment and other economic opportunities. The “gender gap” in agriculture is substantial and prevents women from reaching their full potential and undermines agricultural production and rural development.

FAO works with member states and partners to design and implement gender-equitable laws, policies and programmes. Priority actions include: increasing women’s access to and control over productive resources; developing gender-sensitive value chains and investing in labour-saving technologies

Key policy messages

  • Gender equality is essential for attaining food security, nutrition and achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • If women had the same access as men to productive resources and services, they could increase yields on their farms significantly, which in turn would reduce the number of hungry people in the world.
  • COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting rural women’s productive, reproductive and income-generating capacities, by reducing their economic opportunities and access to nutritious foods, while at the same time increasing their workloads and escalating their risks to gender-based violence.
  • Investing in women’s leadership and engaging them in the design and implementation of COVID-19 response strategies is critical to ensure that their perspectives and needs are adequately considered.
  • To close the gender gap in agriculture, policy interventions must address the root causes of gender inequalities and reverse discriminatory norms and practices that perpetuate these inequalities.

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