ROME—Leaders from the three Rome-based UN agencies marked International Women’s Day on Wednesday by reinforcing their commitments to step up efforts to invest in the capacities of rural women as key agents to eradicating hunger worldwide.
In developing countries, women make up 45 percent of the agricultural labor force, ranging from 20 percent in Latin America to up to 60 percent in parts of Africa and Asia.
However, they do significantly more unpaid work than men which limited their capacity to earn incomes and advance their skills.
Due to gender-biased social norms, laws and practices, women’s potential and influence on decision-making in economic, social and political spheres are seriously undermined.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Program (WFP) reminded the world that women and girls play a crucial role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular, the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty.
FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said that women play a critical role in agriculture and food systems. However, women still face major constraints in rural labor markets and in agricultural value chains.
Women are more likely to be in poorly paid jobs, without legal or social protection. This limits women’s capacity to advance their skills, earn incomes and access employment opportunities, the FAO Director-General added.
“Achieving gender equality and empowering women are crucial ingredients in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition which is strongly recognized by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.
IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said the world will never overcome poverty and hunger without empowering rural women.
He called for reducing rural women’s workloads by improving access to technologies that save time and labor, transforming gender relations within the family and enabling them to make decisions about their lives.
WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said, empowering women economically is one of the key steps to realizing gender equality and achieving Zero Hunger. The changing world of work — as patterns of economic activity shift — provides the opportunity to achieve these goals.
Enabling women to seize these opportunities will transform lives and help bring the Sustainable Development Goals within reach, she added.