IFAD: Empowering Women Crucial for Food Security

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Oluchi Chibuzor

Hunger and famine will persist and there will be unequal recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic unless more women in rural and urban areas hold leadership positions with increased decision-making power, heads of the three United Nations’ food agencies have said ahead of their joint International Women’s Day event holding today.

The event, co-organised by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), would focus global attention on the vital role that empowered female farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders need to play so that women can contribute on equal terms to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and in creating an environment to eliminate poverty, enhance productivity, and improve food security and nutrition.

“The world is home to more than 1.1 billion girls under the age of 18, who have the potential of becoming the largest generation of female leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers ever seen for the better future.

“Yet, women and girls continue to face persistent structural constraints that prevent them from fully developing their potential and hinder their efforts of improving their lives as well as their households and communities,” a statement quoted FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, to have said.

“Women and girls can play a crucial role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in particular in transforming our agri-food systems.

“We all need to work together to spark the necessary changes to empower women and girls, particularly those in rural areas,” he added.

Also, the President of IFAD, Gilbert Houngbo said it was essential that women are not only in more leadership positions, but that they are consulted and listened to, and integrated in all spheres and stages of pandemic response and recovery.

“Investing in rural women’s leadership and involving them more in creating our post-COVID future is critical to ensure their perspectives and needs are adequately considered, so that we can build back better food systems where there is equal access to nutritious food and decent livelihoods,” he added.

“Women and girls make up half of our global community and it’s time this was reflected in leadership positions at every level,” Executive Director of WFP, David Beasley said.

“We know from our work around the world that when women and girls have better access to information, resources and economic opportunities, and are free to make their own decisions, hunger rates fall and nutrition improves not only for themselves but also their families, communities and countries.”