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.
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 toolkit for the collection and use of sex-disaggregated agricultural data 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
In the developing world, women are the backbone of rural economies. They are farmers, workers and entrepreneurs, and the main caretakers of children and elderly, and of the household. Yet, they fare worse than rural men and urban women by every Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) indicator.
Advancing rural women’s economic empowerment and access to decent rural employment, supporting associations in giving them a stronger voice in decision-making, and fostering their better access to land are three priority areas in enabling rural women to realize their full potential for food and nutrition security.
As the agricultural sector races to adapt to climate change, awareness is growing that gender issues are at the heart of climate-smart agriculture and food security. A Training Guide on Gender and Climate Change Research was recently launched to support the formulation of better agricultural programmes.
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.
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.
- Dimitra February 2012 Newsletter on Rural women, gender and development
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 - More information on this publication.
- Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure - The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security has been approved by the 38th Session of the Committee on World Food Security. One of the key principles laid out in the Guidelines is the need to ensure that women and girls have equal tenure rights and access to land, fisheries and forests independent of their civil and marital status.
- Livestock, life and livelihoods among women and men in East Africa - This film provides an overview of the contribution of livestock to livelihoods in rural communities, particularly for women. Stories from Ethiopia and Kenya show how poor men and women use and accumulate livestock to pull themselves out of poverty and food insecurity. A film by IGAD Livestock Policy Initiative.
- Gender and rural microfinance: A learning route in Uganda - FAO in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and PROCASUR launched an initiative to strengthen women's access to micro financial services. The objective of this activity was also to target practitioners of the rural microfinance industry and assist them with generating effective microfinance programs for both women and men.
Featured FAO publication
The State of Food and Agriculture 2010–11 makes the “business case” for addressing gender issues in agriculture and rural employment. Increasing women’s access to land, livestock, education, financial services, extension, technology and rural employment would boost their productivity and generate gains in terms of agricultural production, food security, economic growth and social welfare. Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift 100–150 million people out of hunger.
This report documents the different roles played by women in rural areas of developing countries and provides solid empirical evidence on the gender gaps they face in agriculture and rural employment.
Access the report directly here.
Further FAO publications
- 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
- The Gender dimension of agricultural and rural employment - 2010
Agri-Gender Database: A statistical toolkit for the production of sex-disaggregated agricultural data - 2010
- National Gender Profile of Agricultural Households, 2010: Report based on the Lao Expenditure and Consumption Surveys, National Agricultural Census and the National Population Census - 2010
- National Gender Profile of Agricultural Households, 2010: Report based on the 2008 Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey - 2010
- National Gender Profile of Agricultural Households, 2010. Report based on the 2006 Rural, Agriculture, and Fishery Census - Vietnam - 2010
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)
For other resources, see: FAO gender resources
- 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