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The sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place in New York 12-23 March, is discussing innovative policies and practical solutions to the multiple challenges women face in rural areas.   

To contribute to this debate, a side event jointly organized by Niger and FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women on Tuesday 13 March, discussed achievements and lessons learned by the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (JP RWEE), a global initiative that  is seeing these four agencies working together to make a sustainable impact in the lives of rural women in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda.    

In welcoming participants, Khetsiwe Dlamini, UN Women’s Chief of Staff, highlighted the contribution of the programme to many of the issues that the Sustainable Development Goals seek to tackle, including rural poverty, hunger, and limited opportunities to get education.

This was echoed by HE Elback Zeinabou Tari Bako, Minister of Women’s Promotion and Child Protection of Niger, who showed appreciation for how the agencies are working together to maximize impact and manage resources in a coordinated manner, and this in line with the priorities of her government.  

The opening remarks were followed by more detailed insights and experiences from the programme, shared by Susan Kaaria, FAO Senior Gender Officer, and Etagegnehu Getachew, RWEE National Coordinator in Ethiopia.

Kaaria pointed out how over 41,000 and 261,000 household members in the seven countries are benefitting from the programme, with encouraging results with regard to increased agricultural production and nutrition diversity, access to income, women’s leadership in their communities, and the creation of a policy environment that responds to rural women’s needs and priorities.

Getachew complemented Kaaria’s intervention and further showcased how the comprehensive “package” offered by  the JP RWEE, building on each Agency’s comparative advantage, has already supported  over 2500 women in two regions of Ethiopia.

As underlined by Eva Johannsson from the Swedish development cooperation agency in her closing remarks, “Rural women and girls are still disproportionately affected by poverty, and  there is a need for programmes that address economic empowerment in an integrated way. Sweden, already the largest donor to the JP RWEE, continues to believe in it, and has decided to invest additional USD 5 million to increase the programme’s  outreach”. Johansson also encouraged other donors to join the partnership, in order to consolidate the results and scale up to reach more  women.

Her call for action was joined by Jens Frølich Holte, State Secretary of Norway, who announced additional 1.3 million USD for 2018 for theJP RWEE. For Holte, “The programme is an example of how the UN can work together and deliver as one”.

GFAR's Gender in Agriculture Partnership has teamed up with the Joint Programme on “Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women” (JP RWEE) to share news and updates and provide a platform for discussion on issues of women's empowerment. RWEE is a global initiative whose overarching goal is to secure rural women’s livelihoods and rights in the context of sustainable development. Jointly implemented by FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger, and Rwanda, the JP RWEE builds on each Agency’s comparative advantage and strengths in order to improve the status of women in rural areas and has four main outcomes: i) Improved food and nutrition security; ii) Increased income to sustain livelihoods; iii) Enhanced participation in decision-making; iv) a more gender-responsive policy environment for rural women in agriculture.  

Relevant links:


Concept note

JP RWEE Youtube Channel

Pictures of the event