UN World Food Programme

Four UN Agencies Work To Empower Rural Women

Helping women farmers boost their income could lead to huge gains in food security in many countries around the world. Copyright: WFP/Maxim Shubovich

Investing in women farmers could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 million people. That was one of many insights which emerged at the launch of a joint project to empower farmers in seven different countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

NEW YORK—Rural women farmers are the key to building a more food security world, underlined WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin at the New York launch of a joint project to empower women farmers around the world.

“What we are doing as the four agencies”, explained Cousin, “is committing to cooperate for action and change on the ground. It’s not about building new architecture, new structures, new global programs; it’s about new and more action—and more outcomes—for the benefit of women on the ground”.

WFP at the UN General Assembly: Highlights

WFP’s Executive Director Ertharin Cousin is in New York this week, taking part in a range of hunger-related events in and around the UN General Assembly. Find out about the higlights.

The initiative brings together WFP, UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to put women in the driver’s seat of food security in their communities.

Accelerating progress

The project, called “Accelerating Progress Towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women”, aims to improve food security and nutrition for women farmers while helping them boost their income through advanced farming techniques.

“When women are empowered and can claim their rights and access to land, leadership, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations”, said Michelle Bachelet, Under Secretary General and UN Women Executive Director.

The initiative counts on the support of governments such as Brazil, Canada, Liberia and the Netherlands. Women in seven countries--Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda--will be the first to benefit.

Increasing opportunities

Women are responsible for half of the world’s food production. As a result of limited resources such as land, finance, credits and technology, however, women in rural communities often have markedly limited opportunities. 

Increases in income, and overall improvements in women’s lives have an immediate positive impact on the well-being of household and community members, and on the nutritional well-being of children.