UN agencies unite to recognise women farmers as pillars of food and nutrition security
On 6th March 2015, three United Nations food relief agencies gathered ahead of International Women’s Day to remind the world that women farmers play a central role in achieving food and nutrition security. At the Rome event, leaders from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) shared testimonials of their innovative interventions that have empowered rural women, and in doing so have contributed to food security and nutrition. The leaders urged countries to step up efforts to empower rural women. They also highlighted that promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment can significantly strengthen efforts to reduce rural poverty.
“Women are the backbone of rural societies as they grow and process food and make sure their families are well-fed and well-nourished” said IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze in his opening remarks. Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of WFP and SUN Lead Group Member, highlighted the innovative Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative, which connects smallholders to markets and in five years tripled women’s participation in P4P-supported farmers’ organizations in 20 countries. “Using WFP’s market power, the organization directly and positively impacted the lives of 300,000 women,” Cousin said.
This year, the international community commemorated the 20th anniversary of the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. International Women’s Day is a special occasion held on the 8th of March to celebrate the achievements made since Beijing to take action on the remaining challenges to women’s empowerment and gender equality. Over the last 20 years, organisations have increasingly highlighted the critical role of women in sustainable feeding the developing world. Studies have shown that their economic and social empowerment leads to improvements in agricultural production, food security, nutrition, economic growth and social welfare.