The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information. The organisation helps developing countries and countries in transition modernise and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. The FAO was founded in 1945; since then, focus has been placed on developing rural areas, which are home to 70 percent of the world’s poor and hungry people .
Table of Contents
- 1 Main areas of work
- 2 Objectives
- 3 FAO’s work on gender
- 4 Featured articles on FAO’s Gender website
- 5 The Gender and Land Rights database
- 6 FAO Dimitra Project
- 7 Featured FAO publications
- 8 Further FAO publications
- 9 Featured videos
- 10 External links
Main areas of work
The FAO has 7 departments and 7 offices. The departments range from Agriculture and Consumer Protection to Corporate Services, Human Resources and Finance, Economic and Social Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Environment, and Technical Cooperation; and the offices from Corporate Communications and External Relations to Evaluation, Inspector-General, Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension, Strategy Planning and Resource Management, and Support to Decentralisation.
The main objectives of the FAO are:
- Putting information within reach
- Sharing policy expertise
- Providing a meeting place for nations
- Bringing knowledge to the field
FAO’s work on gender
One of FAO’s main themes of work is gender issues in agriculture, food security and rural development.
- For an overview of FAO’s programme on gender, please check gender programme
- The FAO has just released a database on gender and land rights (March 2010): database
- A The Agri-Gender Database is now also available (April 2010)
- For more information on FAO’s work and gender resources, please check the website
Featured articles on FAO’s Gender website
India’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and FAO are strengthening their collaboration to boost rural development and reduce poverty in Asia and Africa via local initiatives focused on empowering rural women and youth.
In Zamboanga City, FAO is working with others to provide livelihood recovery assistance to small-scale fishers and seaweed growers, particularly women and youth affected by armed clashes.
“I am confident that this groundnut cultivation will help educate my children and earn a substantial income for my family” says Nelka Kumari Ariyasena, one of a group of 15 farmers in the Northwestern Province of Sri Lanka.
According to statistics, over one-third of Rwandan children are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. In April 2015, FAO Rwanda launched a project to fight malnutrition and stunting in the country’s Rutsiro district.
How an FAO project enabled rural women in Pakistan’s flood-ravaged provinces of Sindh and Balochistan to start growing their own vegetables for improved food security, nutrition and much more.
Around 1 000 women market vendors – farmers who were adversely affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston – have received agriculture supplies that will help in their efforts to replant their crops. The produce will eventually be sold to market.
The division of labour in agriculture often follows traditional patterns. Across a variety of sectors, from smallholder farmers to pastoralists and from forest keepers to fishers, men and women usually have very different—though complementary—roles, with specific tasks assigned to each.
The Gender and Land Rights database
The Gender and Land Rights database is an on-line information device that includes country-based information on relevant legal, institutional and socio-economic factors shaping individual’s land-rights because of their gender.
By providing quantitative and qualitative information, the database constitutes a practical tool for decision makers, researchers and development practitioners; allowing for in-depth analysis of the gender asymmetries in land rights at both country level and across regions.
The Country profiles offered by the Database constitutes a comprehensive set of facts and figures for driving reforms, designing gender sensitive policies and programs, and enforcing existing provisions towards equality of land rights.
The database draws attention to thematic areas that require both better policy consideration and improved awareness and thorough research for enhancing gender equity in rights to land. Read more here.
Land statistics disaggregated by sex are essential to monitor progress towards a more secure and gender-equitable land tenure system and to highlight the disparities in land rights between women and men, providing a sense of women’s economic empowerment in agriculture.
This paper provides an overview of five indicators of the Gender Land and Rights Database (GLRD), the dimensions they capture, and how each is calculated.
Clarification on the use of sex-disaggregated land statistics is key to successful monitoring of progress towards the new Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those targets related to rural poverty and women’s empowerment.
“Making sense of Land, Statistics and Gender” explores the correct use of land ownership statistics, highlighting how gender can influence land rights.
The Gender and Land Rights Database and the Land Portal
Since October 2012, the Gender and Land Rights Database is also available on the Land Portal. Integration of the FAO Gender and Land Rights Database into the Land Portal .
FAO Dimitra Project
Dimitra is a participatory information and communication project which contributes to improving the visibility of rural populations, women in particular. The goal of Dimitra is to highlight the role of women and men as producers, so that their respective interests are better taken into consideration and they can fully participate in the rural development of their communities and countries. The project builds the capacities of rural populations, women in particular, through the dissemination of information and the exchange of experiences.
Since 2006, FAO-Dimitra has played a crucial role in strengthening rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, with a special focus on women’s empowerment.
From good practices in crop farming and post-harvest processing to medical care for their communities, this story, along with its accompanying video, illustrates how the Dimitra Clubs enable rural women to step up, realize their potential, and forge paths towards greater food security, nutrition, health and better livelihoods, not only for themselves but for those around them.
In the province of Tshopo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, FAO-Dimitra Clubs have played a key role in improving food security and nutrition and in promoting gender equality for men, women and youth.
A look at how members of FAO-Dimitra Clubs in the Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have succeeded in improving their livelihoods and creating momentum at community level. The video also explores collaborations between the Clubs and other development actors, such as rural institutions.
The Dimitra newsletter outlines the Dimitra project’s most recent activities and achievements, especially the development and growing impact of the listeners’ clubs.
This issue discusses the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015 and COP21 on development and climate change, while giving the floor to various development actors on the theme of gender in resilience and climate change. (For the FRENCH version of the newsletter, click here.)
The phrase “unity gives joy” sums up the first Dimitra Community Listeners’ Clubs Forum for the Tshopo District, held in the town of Isangi, in the Orientale Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Forum, held from 9–10 August 2013, brought together both women and men representing the area’s 60 Dimitra community listeners’ clubs, to share experiences and discuss how the clubs have helped break down traditional barriers.
These quotes below are only a few of the numerous stories that show the impact of #FAODimitra community listeners’ clubs on gender equality and peoples’ empowerment. Key themes currently under discussion in the Eighth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, a major process in the #post-2015 agenda.
- “The club has shown me how to eat properly, with more varied meals”
- “You can work on your own, but there is strength in numbers”
- “Now we can eat together and there are fewer nutritional taboos for women”
- “I was not used to speaking out in front of men; it wasn’t the custom”
Featured Dimitra publications
- Community listeners’ clubs: Stepping stones for action in rural areas – This publication presents the unique experience of community listening groups implemented in Niger and the DRC by FAO-Dimitra and its partners.
- Communicating gender for rural development: Integrating gender in communication for development – Communicating Gender for Rural Development .
Featured FAO publications
This study identifies possible approaches for the development of activities on the right to food in Cambodia, using the gender policies and initiatives now at work in the country as an entry point. The analysis takes into account the Cambodian legal framework in relation to food security, national policies in matters related to food security, and social protection and gender policies for promoting the advancement and empowerment of women.
Mobile phones have been shown to contribute in various ways to rural development, from reducing information asymmetry, improving functional networks, to increasing access to services and finance. Yet a digital gender divide exists, and the answers to questions regarding differential access and use of information and communication technologies are mostly inconclusive. This study tries identify the information needs of the rural poor with gender dissagregated statistics.
A methodological tool and guide prepared under the “Strengthening national capacities for production and analysis of sex-disaggregated data through the implementation of the FAO GASF” project, which targeted national statistical offices and ministries of agriculture in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkey, in order to assist in developing gender-sensitive statistics on the agricultural and rural sector, to assess the status of rural populations – women and men – and to ensure evidence-based and informed policymaking processes.
In aiming for better informed, targeted and gender sensitive actions in agriculture and rural development for the Kyrgyz Republic, this National Gender Profile points out some of the major gender inequalities that need to be considered by policy makers and project managers according to available data, and identifies further research needs.
In aiming for better informed, targeted and gender sensitive actions in agriculture and rural development for Tajikistan, this National Gender Profile points out some of the major gender inequalities that need to be considered by policy makers and project managers according to available data, and identifies further research needs.
Produced as part of the process of identification of key issues in gender and rural development for the preparation of the Regional Gender Strategy approved by the Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, this document provides a brief overview of key issues affecting the status of rural women in the region.
Further FAO publications
Gender equality is central to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ (FAO’s) mandate to achieve food security for all by raising levels of nutrition, improving agricultural productivity and natural resource management, and improving the lives of rural populations. FAO can achieve its goals only if it simultaneously works towards gender equality and supports women’s diverse roles in agriculture and rural development. Gender equality is not only an essential means by which FAO can achieve its mandate, it is also a basic human right (also in French and Spanish).
- Understanding and Integrating Gender Issues into Livestock Projects and Programmes – A checklist for practitioners
This publication aims to help rural women obtain the necessary tools to reach their full potential in the livestock/agricultural sector and fully contribute to household food security and overall economic growth.
This report explores how gender equality can contribute to food security. The focus is on Asia and the Pacific, though developments in other regions are also referenced. The report describes the relationship between gender-based discrimination and the different channels through which households and individuals access food. It concludes that while equality of treatment between women and men and food security are mutually supportive, gender equality remains an elusive goal in many regions, and a transformation of traditional gender roles is urgently needed.
Sistematización que busca mostrar una experiencia de empoderamiento económico y personal de un grupo de mujeres y hombres en la Honduras periurbana.
- Training guide: Gender and climate change research in agriculture and food security for rural development – 2013
This guide is targeted to agricultural development professionals who need better information on the ways in which men and women adapt to and mitigate climate change and how best to address their needs when supporting the development of climate-resilient rural communities. 150 pp. also available in FR, ES
This information sheet covers FAO’s efforts to promote a community-based development approach, inclusive of women, to help restore the livelihoods of earthquake-affected men and women in Pakistan. Involving communities in watershed management is essential because communities are affected by what happens in a watershed, and their actions influence the downstream availability and quality of water. 2 pp.
This information sheet provides an overview of an FAO project that aims to improve the lives of people in rural communities in Afghanistan, through the conservation and sustainable management of forests and other natural resources. It creates livelihood opportunities, including for women. When men and women work together to plan and manage the forest, the entire community thrives. 2 pp.
This information sheet shows how FAO is strengthening the capacities of small and medium-sized enterprises to produce non-wood forest products (NWFPs) while managing the forest sustainably in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the project area, most of the people engaged in the collection, processing and trade of NWFPs are women from disadvantaged rural groups. 2 pp.
- The role of women producer organizations in agricultural value chains, Practical Lessons from Africa and India – 2011
This report offers a comparison of different models of women producer organizations in India and Africa. It presents lessons from good practices in institutional development within producer organizations, including women-based organizations.68 pp.
- The gender and equity implications of land-related investments on land access, labour and income-generating opportunities – A case study of selected agricultural investments in Zambia – 2013
This study assesses the ways agricultural investments affect women and men in Zambia through two case studies, the Kaleya Smallholder Company Ltd and ETC Bio-Energy Ltd, to then provide recommendations for investors and policy makers. 62 pp.
- The gender and equity implications of land-related investments on land access, labour and income-generating opportunities in Northern Ghana – 2013
This report examines how agricultural investments in Ghana affect economic opportunities for women, as compared to men. It draws on a case study of the Integrated Tamale Food Company and provides recommendations for investors and policy makers. 60 pp.
- The gender and equity implications of land-related investments on land access and labour and income-generating opportunities – A case study of selected agricultural investments in Lao PDR – 2013
This report examines how agricultural investments in Lao People’s Democratic Republic affect rural employment opportunities for women and men as well as their access to land. It also provides policy recommendations on key issues. 74 pp.
- Executive summary: the gender and equity implications of land-related investments on land access and labour and income-generating opportunities – A case study of selected agricultural investments in Lao PDR – 2013
This Executive Summary presents the main aims, findings and policy recommendations arising from a study on land-related agricultural investments in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. 14 pp.
- Understanding and Integrating Gender Issues into Livestock Projects and Programmes – A checklist for practitioners – 2013
- FAO Policy on Gender Equality – 2013 also available in FR
- Governing land for women and men: A technical guide to support the achievement of responsible gender-equitable governance of land tenure (January 2013)
- Understanding and integrating gender issues into livestock projects and programmes (2013)
- CEDAW – A tool for gender-sensitive agriculture and rural development policy and programme formulation (2013) also available in FR, ES
- Invisible Guardians – Women manage livestock diversity (2013)
- Gender inequalities in rural employment in Ghana: An overview
- Gender inequalities in rural employment in Ghana: Policy and legislation
- The gender and equity implications of land-related investments on land access and labour and income-generating opportunities: A case study of selected agricultural investments in Northern Tanzania
- Executive Summary – The gender and equity implications of land-related investments on land access and labour and income-generating opportunities: A case study of selected agricultural investments in Northern Tanzania
- Decent rural employment for food security: A case for action
- Passport to mainstreaming gender in water programmesalso available in FR, ES
- Training Guide for Gender and Climate Change Research in Agriculture and Food Security for Rural Development
- Good practices in building innovative rural institutions to increase food security
- Rural Women and the Millennium Development Goals – 2012 also available in FR, ES, AR
- FAO at work 2010-2011: Women key to food security
- Palestinian Womens’ Associations and Agricultural Value Chains – 2011
- Farmers in a changing climate: Does gender matter? – November 2010
- The Gender dimension of agricultural and rural employment – 2010
Agri-Gender Database: A statistical toolkit for the production of sex-disaggregated agricultural data – 2010
- Gender and Landrights Policy Brief
- Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook
For more gender-related publications, see: FAO gender publications
- Global hunger declining, but still unacceptably high – September 2010
- 925 million in chronic hunger worldwide – 2010
- video on hunger figures for 2010
- Quick reference for addressing rural employment and decent work – December 2010
- Child labour prevention in agriculture – December 2010
- Land and property rights – November 2010
- FAO policy on indigenous and tribal peoples – November 2010
- State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11 “Women in agriculture: closing the gender gap for development” (Information sheet) – The SOFA Report 2011: %E2%80%9CWomen in agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development%E2%80%9D – Full report
For other resources, see: FAO gender resources
In Thailand, FAO is working with local authorities to empower communities and improve their livelihoods by developing local value chains. This video tells the story of a group of women in one such community, in the village of Mok Cham Pae in Mae Hong Son province.
When Penjit Dokambutr worked as a teacher in Mok Cham Pae, she had enough money to live on. But once she retired in 2008, her income decreased and she had to find a way to support herself. She joined a group of women who participated in a career training program sponsored by FAO. After the program, armed with their new skills and equipment, the women decided to make traditional Thai snacks for sale. The crispy lotus blossom cookies and wafers soon became a success, and the women are now earning around US$3.50 per day. As Penjit says, “that’s a lot of money to us.”
FAO’s work in Bangladesh supports rural women farmers across a variety of sectors. In this video we meet Shipra Bagchi, a shrimp farmer from Khulna in the southwest; Monowara Begum, a crop farmer from Mymensingh in the north; and Eliza Khan, a dairy farmer from the Rajshahi division in central Bangladesh.
Since 2012, FAO has been working with the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and UN Women on a joint programme for Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (RWEE).
RWEE, which is being implemented in seven countries, aims to improve rural women’s food and nutrition security, increase their incomes, enhance their decision-making power and encourage policy environments that are conducive to their economic empowerment. This video highlights RWEE work in Niger, where the four agencies are working together across the regions of Dosso and Maradi.
- FAO website
- The Economic and Social Development Department
- FAO gender page : Gender and Food Security
- Gender in Agriculture community of practice website – brings together the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
- Infographic – The Female face of farming