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Economic inclusion and social protection to reduce poverty

Addressing gender inequalities to mitigate the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in rural areas











FAO. 2020. ​Economic inclusion and social protection to reduce poverty: Addressing gender inequalities to mitigate the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in rural areas. FAO COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme: Europe and Central Asia. Budapest.



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    Bridging the Gap
    Fao's Programme for Gender Equality in agriculture and rural development
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    Today, the spectre of hunger has returned to many developing countries. The number of undernourished people has risen above one billion, or one sixth of humanity. The international community faces other daunting challenges, including the global economic downturn, plummeting levels of trade and investment, growing scarcity of natural resources, and the impact of climate change. We cannot overcome those challenges while age-old, ingrained ideas of gender roles deny women’s full partici pation in decision-making and social and economic development. Rural women make up the majority of the world’s poor. Much of their work as household providers and agricultural producers is unpaid, making their contribution virtually invisible. They have far less access than men to land ownership, financial services, training and other means of increasing agricultural production and improving family income, nutrition and health. Women and female-headed households are disproportionately affected by economic recession and higher food prices. Social and economic inequalities between men and women undermine food security and hold back economic growth and advances in agriculture. That is why FAO’s new strategic framework identifies gender equity in access to resources, goods, services and decision-making in rural areas as one of the Organization’s key objectives for the next 10 years. Gender equity will be essential to implementing the decisions of the World Summit on Foo d Security, held in Rome in November 2009. By mainstreaming gender equity into all of its programmes for agriculture and rural development, FAO aims at strengthening the impact of its support to member countries, and achieving the goals of gender equality, the eradication of hunger and poverty, and food security for all.
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    Gendered impacts of COVID-19 and equitable policy responses in agriculture, food security and nutrition 2020
    As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, many countries are adopting measures to control the spread of the virus. While the health aspects of the pandemic have not affected rural areas as much as urban centres, containment measures pose new challenges to rural women with regards to their roles in household food security, as agricultural producers, farm managers, processors, traders, wage workers and entrepreneurs. Past experience shows that rural women are disproportionally affected by health and economic crises in a number of ways, including but not limited to food security and nutrition, time poverty, access to health facilities, services and economic opportunities, and gender-based violence (GBV). Further, COVID-19 is increasing women’s work burden due to school closures and the additional care needs of sick household members. This brief compiles evidence from current and previous epidemics to explore the socio-economic implications of the impact of the pandemic on food systems and rural economies, and how a gender-sensitive approach can help address key policy issues related to the functioning of food and agricultural systems and the special circumstances of rural women. It also provides concrete policy recommendations to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on rural women and girls.
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    Gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security, agricultural production, income and family relations in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
    Working Paper, 76
    2024
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    Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures implemented to control the spread of the virus have exacerbated existing gender inequalities. This paper explores changes in agriculture, food security, nutrition, and family dynamics in the rural areas of Central Asia – specifically, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan – during the pandemic, focusing on women and men. Employing a mixed-methods approach that combines quantitative and qualitative analyses, the findings reveal that rural women were disproportionally affected due to pre-existing gender disparities and limited decision-making power. Women experienced compounded challenges, including increased unpaid work, additional agricultural labour and household chores, difficulties associated with online schooling and healthcare management, limited access to agricultural resources, and a higher risk of domestic violence. The pandemic heightened women’s vulnerability to food insecurity, whereas Central Asian governments’ interventions failed to support all women effectively. The paper concludes with policy recommendations to guide future policymaking, aiming to mitigate shocks and stressors and develop gender-responsive actions that empower rural women and men. These recommendations focus on improving food security and overall well-being in the rural regions of Central Asia, recognizing and addressing the distinct challenges women faced during the pandemic.

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