Addressing gender equality is a fundamental part of FAO’s mandate. Social and economic inequalities between women and men undermine food security and restrict economic growth and advances in agriculture. The problems of hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty cannot be solved unless and until women and men are treated equally and gender disparities are challenged. In order to ensure that gender issues are adequately addressed at all levels of planning, and throughout implementation processes and each Strategic Objective, gender has been incorporated into the new FAO Strategic Framework as a Cross-Cutting Theme. This means that FAO recognizes the critical importance of the issue and is committed to gender equality across its full remit, including the areas of: food and nutrition security, agriculture and consumer protection, economic and social development, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, natural resource management and environment, technical cooperation, knowledge exchange, research and extension.
Gender equality can be achieved through a strategy of mainstreaming, which is defined by the United Nations as, “…the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.”1 Where necessary, the mainstreaming approach can be strengthened through the implementation of specific women-targeted / gender-equality interventions and actions, especially in areas of persistent gender-based discrimination.
In 2012, FAO endorsed a Policy on Gender Equality2, the goal of which is to achieve equality between women and men in sustainable agricultural production and rural development, with the specific aim of eliminating hunger and poverty. The Policy is crucial to the delivery and impact of FAO’s work, and to strengthening the quality of its support to Member States in order to accomplish the goals of eliminating hunger, reducing rural poverty and achieving food security for all.
The FAO Regional Off ice for Europe and Central Asia (REU) is fully committed to implementing the corporate Policy on Gender Equality, and to providing support to Member Countries and national institutions in developing and implementing policies, programmes and strategies that aim to attain food security goals through sustainable and equitable rural development.
Addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment in agricultural planning and programming will ensure greater food security and the improved performance of the agricultural sector. In order to accelerate the eff ective implementation of the corporate Policy in the Region of Europe and Central Asia as part of FAO’s Strategic Framework, the FAO is committed to adopting and implementing this Regional strategy for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of rural women, to achieve food security and poverty reduction goals in the region in a more systematic, holistic and sustainable manner.
The FAO Regional strategy for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of rural women (henceforth cited in the text as the Regional gender strategy), is informed by the Strategic Thinking Process, the Strategic Framework 2010-19, the Results Framework Medium-Term Plan (MTP) 2014-17 and the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) 2015-16. All documents reinforce gender equality as (i) a cross-cutting theme for FAO and (ii) fundamental to achieving its corporate Strategic Objectives.
The Regional gender strategy represents the common vision of the FAO, including the Regional Off ice for Europe and Central Asia, the Sub-regional Off ice for Central Asia (SEC) and the country off ices, and specifies what FAO intends to achieve in the region over the next two years with respect to its gender programming, and how it will accomplish it. The strategy defines regional priorities and needs, alongside time-bound outcomes, outputs and activities. It also defines the roles and responsibilities of FAO’s regional, sub-regional and country off ices in gender mainstreaming.
The Regional gender strategy was first formulated in the regional, face-to-face meeting of the Gender Focal Points (GFPs) from SEC and the Decentralized Off ices (Dos), organized by the FAO Social Protection Division (ESP) and REU and held on 26-27 March 2015 in Budapest. Its development and growth was enabled via a participatory and consultative process, which involved the ESP, SEC, GFPs, technical off icers working in the region and other stakeholders. Feedback received from participants representing governmental and civil society organizations during the Informal consultations with the Member States of Europe and Central Asia held on 18-19 May 2015, has been also integrated into the document.