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Leave no rural woman behind in national and regional agricultural investment plans!

Economic Community of West African States Commission (ECOWAS) and United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)


15 October 2016


15 October 2016, Abuja/Accra – The celebration of the International Day for Rural Women provides the opportunity to celebrate rural women’s important roles in food production and processing, food security and nutrition and reduction of rural poverty. It is also a strong reminder to ECOWAS member countries of their commitment toward the empowerment of rural women in terms of securing their access to and control over land, finance, technologies, services and markets. Despite these commitments, the sad truth is that rural women still lag behind in accessing key productive resources essential for food security and nutrition, and for their economic empowerment.

“The elaboration of the 2nd generation of National and Regional Agricultural Plan should leave no rural woman behind. Rural women should also be equal partners in all areas of decision making on food and agriculture. This is key to achieving ECOWAS’ goals for food security and nutrition, import substitution and resilient agricultural and food systems in the context of climate change”, said Fatimata Dia SOW, ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender.

ECOWAS and FAO have been championing the cause of rural women in the region since they are mindful of their critical roles in the sustainable development of the region.

“In this respect, we have embarked on various concrete projects such as: the setting up of business incubators for rural women for growing and enhancing their agricultural productivity, providing agricultural inputs for women farmers and educational scholarship for indigent girls. We are also committed to addressing barriers to the equal participation of men and women in improving energy access in the region”, added the Commissioner.

ECOWAS member countries have also made great progress in enacting laws for rural women’s empowerment.

Tacko Ndiaye is Senior Gender, Equality and Rural Development Officer at the FAO Regional Office for Africa. She believes that ECOWAS member countries should be urged to design and implement integrated and multisectoral public policies.Investments can also raise rural women’s productive capacity and incomes, increase their access to decent paid jobs, ensure their full enjoyment of safe, diverse and nutritious food, and strengthen their resilience.

“It is now time for them to step up their efforts in translating their gender equality commitments into the reality of women in our villages, through policies and programmes, and most importantly through adequate budget allocation to make them effective”, she said.

She called for efforts in expanding rural women’s opportunities in agricultural value chains within the framework of public-private partnerships and other private sector investments.”

The ECOWAS Commission and FAO are jointly implementing a Technical Cooperation Project with the goal to ensure that agricultural transformation and inclusive agricultural growth fully benefits and empowers women and youth farmers in West Africa.

Key expected deliverables of the project include the elaboration of the Draft ECOWAS Action Plan on Gender and Agriculture; the preparation of country gender profiles to inform sound policies and agricultural investments; and strengthening the capacities of Governments and rural institutions in gender- responsive and inclusive policy and programme design, financing, implementation and monitoring.

“We seize this opportunity to salute the efforts and achievements of all the rural women in our region.  On our part we will more than double our efforts to support rural women in order to build their technical and economic capacities so as to enhance their productivity and improve their competitiveness. We urge all stakeholders to join hands in promoting the overall well-being of rural women – they are the key to the agricultural transformation and sustainable development agenda in our region”, said Fatimata Dia SOW.

Contact :

ECOWAS Communication/Abuja, Sandra OULATE,

FAO Communication/Accra, Kambirigi, Liliane,

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