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Gender equality and women’s empowerment should take centre-stage in donor policies

Participants at the roundtable ©GDPRD

New York City | USA | March 2018
The event organised by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development focussed on catching the picture of donor's challenges and successes on the field and at policy level in relation to empowering rural women and girls.

In order to unlock the conversations, five short presentations were offered as a basis for the discussion. The discussion was set in the context of collaboration and partnering, as well as the mix of strategies employed by donors at global, regional and national levels when working to empower rural women and girls. Presentations can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. 


Global Affairs Canada: Amrane Boumghar spoke of Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy. Women are to become partners in development, with the opportunities to express their needs, organise and influence the allocation of resources.

IFAD: Khadidja Doucoure noted IFAD’s three pillars of engagement – inclusiveness, profitability and sustainability. With the majority of the portfolio focusing on market-oriented initiatives, one opportunity is to increase young women’s access to markets, their participation in and leadership of farmer organisations, and their engagement with post-farm activities.

FAO: Susan Kaaria described FAO’s partnerships at various levels: from participating in, informing and influencing global policy dialogue (examples: CEDAW article on rural women and VGGT); to ensuring that gender is mainstreamed into regional agricultural strategies; and, at country level, participating in multi-stakeholder discussions and country platforms.

MFA Finland: Sanna-Liisa Taivalmaa highlighted the key differences in operating modalities between IFIs and bilateral donors – in terms of relationship with the national government, size and duration of the investment, management arrangements and provision of technical assistance.

Global Donor Platform: Clare Bishop presented the findings of a study recently conducted for the Platform which reviewed women’s empowerment in agribusiness investments. Specific attention was paid to eight domains of gender inequality, the four-point gender rating, and the role of project management.

Key take away messages and recommendations

1. Place gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) at the core of development activities

Canada noted there is still a tendency by many to develop a gender strategy as an adjunct to the main programme whereas it needs to be at the centre. There needs to be a determined shift to move GEWE centre-stage. Recommendation: Encourage donors to place GEWE at the centre of programme design and implementation for economic gains, inclusivity and sustainability.

2. The proliferation of guidelines and checklists

Concern was expressed that many wheels are being reinvented as each agency sets out to develop its own materials. The challenge is how to bring all the commitments and checklists into practice. Recommendation: Ensure checklists etc are accompanied by capacity building in their use and broader awareness raising of the relevance of GEWE to development outcomes

3. Gender data gaps

The persistent lack of sex-disaggregated data hinders analysis and lesson learning. Recommendation: As a good practice, donors should insist on the collection of SDD in their reporting mechanisms. In addition, in very large grants, donors should ensure there is gender expertise in the implementing agency.

For more information on the discussions at the roundtable, a report is available for download below.


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