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Building smart solutions to advance equal opportunities for women and girls

UN agencies celebrating International Women's Day with special guests.
ROME – A group of prominent women joined the three Rome-based United Nations agencies today, to mark International Women’s Day at an event recognising women’s contributions to building smart solutions for those who are excluded from decision making and influencing development in all sectors.


A vibrant discussion saw Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; Giulia Blasi, Italian author and journalist; Minna Salami, Finnish-Nigerian author, blogger and social critic; and Sarah Jane Morris, British singer and songwriter share their vision for a gender-equal society where women will thrive.

The event – jointly organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – focused on this year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. 

“We know that creating a world with Zero Hunger requires empowering more women and girls, with programmes that educate and build economic opportunity,” said WFP Executive Director, David Beasley. “We must work harder at this because right now progress is being held back in so many places where women aren’t given the opportunities that they should have. That’s why every day, WFP is helping millions of women tap their full potential and improve their own lives, the lives of their families, communities and nations.”

“Equality for women is a cornerstone in building a world without hunger and poverty, which is why it is one of IFAD’s four mainstreaming themes,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, IFAD President. “Half of the participants in the projects IFAD supports are women. We have seen transformative results through our approach of working at the household level to promote equitable relations and a fair division of labour and decision-making for the entire family.”

“Innovations in technology, services and infrastructure have great potential to advance gender equality and rural women’s empowerment,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo. “We must continue to work together to help remove the structural and socio-cultural barriers that hinder women’s and girls’ ability to exercise their rights and freedoms.”

FAO, IFAD and WFP work globally to tackle gender-based discrimination against women and girls, so that men and women have the same rights and can enjoy equal access to services, resources, and opportunities – which are vital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including Zero Hunger by 2030.

The three UN agencies work in synergy across their programmes to close the gender gap in agriculture by enhancing women’s economic empowerment and their role in rural development.  They are implementing, together with UN Women, the  joint programme “Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women” - JP RWEE - which since 2014 has reached 51 180 people (40 227 women and 10 953 men), as well as over 465 000 household members (directly and indirectly) in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda. By helping to improve women’s food security and nutrition, increase their income and enhance their decision-making power, while at the same time encouraging policy environments that are conducive to women’s economic empowerment, the JP RWEE is promoting sustainable rural development and the achievement of Agenda 2030.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.  FAO’s goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that women and men everywhere have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide. We believe that everyone can play a part in ending hunger. Join us in creating a #ZeroHunger world.

IFAD has invested in rural people for 40 years, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$20.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 480 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

The United Nations World Food Programme concentrates on saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

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Link to download photos of the event:



Rome-based agencies Gender


For more information please contact:

Irina Utkina, FAO Media Relations, Tel. +39 06 570 52542,  

Katie Taft, IFAD, Tel. +39 06 5459 2396 Mob: +39 334 6083657

Frances Kennedy, WFP/Rome, Mob. +39 346 7600806,