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UN rural development fund notes progress in its gender equality objectives

UN rural development fund notes progress in its gender equality objectives

The United Nations rural development fund said today it has made significant progress in improving gender equality and strengthening the role of women in agriculture production, but noted that more remains to be done to help women reap the benefits of rural development.

Following a report by its evaluation office, the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said that it has adopted three objectives to improve gender equality and women’s empowerment – expanding women’s access to assets, strengthening their decision-making role in community affairs, and easing their workload by facilitating access to basic rural services and infrastructure.

IFAD, a specialized agency of the United Nations, is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Seventy-five per cent of the world's poorest people – 1.4 billion women, children and men – live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood.

In a press release, the Fund said its evaluation office concluded that it “has succeeded in addressing the many challenges faced by women in developing countries” and that it has played an important role in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in relevant global policy and advocacy forums.

However, the report outlined a number of areas where IFAD’s performance and results on gender can be improved, especially in enhancing women’s well-being and easing their workload, ensuring better documentation and sharing of lessons and good practices, strengthen monitoring and reporting to IFAD’s senior management and Executive Board, and advancing innovative solutions that can be scaled up to address challenges faced by rural women in developing countries.

The evaluation report also found that IFAD is well-positioned, compared to other development organisations, with regard to its gender balance in staffing, even though there is a need for more women to be represented at senior levels.

The report’s recommendations include that IFAD review its human resources strategy in relation to gender to ensure that the required staff and financial resources are assigned to improving gender balance. It also suggests an approach to individual work planning and management that is more gender-sensitive.