IFAD - The International Fund for Agricultural Development, a specialized agency of the United Nations,


IFAD is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Seventy-five per cent of the world's poorest people - 800 million women, children and men - live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.

IFAD Contribution-MDG 3: Gender Equality and Womenís Empowerment

This section illustrates IFAD's evolving approaches to gender mainstreaming and womenís empowerment, demonstrating how the approaches have developed in recent years and how they differ across regions

OverviewIFAD works to create the conditions to enable rural poor people to integrate themselves into the mainstream of social and economic development, and to overcome poverty by improving their access to, and control over fundamental assets.

Special efforts are made to remove the material, institutional and policy obstacles that prevent rural poor, women in particular, from harnessing their potential.

Rural poverty is deeply rooted in the imbalance between what women do and what they have. Building womenís capabilities and addressing gender inequalities are crucial factors in enabling them to transform their lives and the lives of their families and communities.

Women are key to addressing the household food security and nutrition goals that are central to IFADís mandate.

Women must be empowered to lead the fight against poverty and hunger if efforts to achieve the MDGs are to be successful.

IFAD considers three pillars in its work to achieve gender equality and womenís empowerment:

Improving rural womenís economic status and helping them build an asset base contribute to breaking down gender stereotypes. IFAD prioritizes womenís economic empowerment and provides support to women in enterprise development, organizing for income generation, and in accessing microfinance, education and training, market information and markets. Eliminating the barriers that prevent women from getting access to fundamental assets is crucial for broad-based economic growth and poverty reduction.

Rural poor people need to be able to influence the public and private decisions that affect their lives, if change is to be sustainable. IFAD-supported projects enable women to have a voice, by facilitating their rights of association and expression, building their awareness of their rights, improving their access to microfinance, supporting them in questioning gender stereotypes and facilitating their participation. Addressing these issues enables women to gain self-confidence and participate in transforming gender relations. However, the challenge remains to increase womenís role as decision-makers in community affairs and local institutions, a necessary step towards improving political representation and achieving the target of the MDG related to promoting gender equality and womenís empowerment.

Rural women give high priority to basic needs such as health services, water, education and infrastructure when consulted during planning of development initiatives. IFAD recognizes that lack of, or limited access to, essential services and infrastructure is a major obstacle to womenís advancement because it prevents them from participating in the mainstream of economic development and community life.


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