14 NOVEMBER, 1989 NGO MEETING
FAO'S PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE INTEGRATION OF WOMEN IN
DEVELOPMENT AND ITS RELATION TO INTERNATIONAL NON-
Dr. Anita Spring
Chief, Women in Agricultural Production and Rural Development Service
On October 3, 1989 I met with an ad hoc group of your members, reviewed the
interconnections of INGOs and the FAO, and presented the Plan of Action for the
Integration of Women in Development in terms of its contents and the priorities selected
to carry it out. I mentioned some ways that the INGOs could be involved and asked for
suggestions as to what some of the programmes and projects were that you were
involved in. I received information from six INGOs that felt there were areas of shared
interests with the Plan of Action for WID. Undoubtedly there are others as well. I
would like to begin with your activities and then relate them to FAO's activities.
The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the Trade Union
International of Agricultural, Forestry and Plantation Workers (TUIAFPW)
have worked on many projects collaboratively with FAO. In the past five years, about three
of these have included women specifically (in Ghana, India, and a regional project).
Since 1976, the main forum for regular contacts and collaboration between FAO and the trade
unions are the Biennial Consultations held at FAO headquarters in Rome. During these
meetings, there is an exchange of views on major developments in agriculture and rural
development and discussions on possible collaboration. The 1985 Biennial Consultation
included the subject of Women in Development (WID) on the agenda. The background
document prepared by WFTU for the 1989 Consultation stressed the need to promote women
role's in agriculture and to eliminate legal and other disabilities that prevent working women
from getting full benefits from land reform and rural development schemes. The
International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) see below produced a document
on IFAP and women farmers that outlines approaches, activities, training and the formation
of a committee to deal with the issue. Future collaboration with FAO should ensure that the
on-going and proposed projects both include women farmers and monitor their inclusion.
The Associated County Women of the World noted its active promotion of the
inclusion of women in agricultural, food production and processing, marketing and
credit, and agricultural extension projects. Past collaboration with FAO has included
workshops at national and regional levels, the development of training materials and
publications and a survey on NGO community action. Future collaboration with FAO
could include various training and pilot projects, especially using national NGOs in
The International Federation of Agricultural Producers has encouraged
women to participate in policy fora and in farm leadership positions. They have held
various training courses, seminars and workshops for rural women IFAP
development communication programmes and other publications promote the specific
needs of women producers. The manual "Developing appropriate farming systems"
had a section devoted to women farmers.
FAO/IFAP cooperation since 1974 has included various collaborative activities such as
inter-agency meetings and workshops for women farmers at the NGO forum in
Nairobi. Future IFAP activities include a Workshop on farmers'organizations in
African countries, in Ivory Coast (December 1989), a Seminar for farm leaders from
developing countries, in Norway (May-June 1990), and the Committee on Women in
Agriculture meeting on the theme of "Agrochemicals: a women's view", in Norway
Future activities with FAO might be: (1) more leadership training for women farmers,
(2) information and support on specific technical subjects, (3) collection of statistics on
women farmers and participation in farmer organizations, (4) information on by-laws
and constitutions of farmers' associations to enable full participation of women to be
studied and disseminated, and (5) staff training to women and men officials in the
organization and in government on the needs of rural women.
The International Council of Women has supported projects assisting women in
rural areas and held training workshops on project development and management. Past
collaboration included small projects' programme known as 15 Small Miracles, which
included a project on nutrition and sanitation in Botswana, a seminar on appropriate
technology in Cameroon, a project on grinding corn in Lesotho, family gardens in
Madagascar, chicken farm in Morocco, vegetable cultivation in Turkey, etc. Future
areas for collaboration with FAO would be in training and other projects for women.
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has a current focus
on environment and forestry, with girls from 22 countries planting and caring for trees.
They sponsor various agricultural projects such as on vegetable production, fish
breeding and drying, poultry and goat rearing, nutrition, community development
programmes, etc. They have also worked on child survival programmes and have
published graded handbooks on nutrition and community skills. Several of the projects
were or are being carried out in collaboration with UN agencies and future collaboration
with FAO could be on technical assistance in various aspects of forestry, horticulture,
livestock and other agricultural aspects. The Association of Guides and Scouts of Italy
also responded; their collaboration with FAO is on a project on Burkina Faso, although
they have worked with UNICEF and WHO more extensively.
Collaboration with the International Federation of Home Economics has
included attendance at the international conference on home economics Future
collaboration could and will focus on the design and implementation of home
economics curricula and on family resource management programmes, that fit into the
priorities mentioned below.
The Plan of Action for the Integration of Women in Development
The FAO Plan of Action for the Integration of Women in Development (WID), was
unanimously approved by the 94th Council in November 1988, and is on the agenda of the
25th Conference this month. A discussion of the major contents of the Plan can provide an
explanation of how INGOs can be brought into FAO's sphere of action. The Plan's
objective is to ensure that, in FAO's sphere of responsibility, women are accorded equal
rights and opportunities and that their potentialcontribution is put to use by their societies.
The strategy proposed is to work for this change at three levels: (a) increasing the
information base on women in agricultural development; (b) formulating and promoting
policies based on this knowledge; and (c) developing adequate programmes and projects.
The focus of activities is to support women in their roles as producers and workers in
agriculture, including fisheries and forestry. The emphasis is on women's special needs for
income-producing activities and control of income; for obtaining extension services and
training opportunities; and for the introduction and development of technologies and other
means to ease their burden and to increase their productivity and their access to markets.
The Plan is a comprehensive document and identifies measures in four spheres of action--the
civil status, economic, social and decision-making spheres and it proposes a wide range of
In the civil status sphere, the Plan calls for efforts to improve legislation on women's access
to land, credit and membership in development organizations and co-operatives. The Plan
foresees FAO providing advisory and training services to countries that desire to bring
national legislation in conformity with standards being suggested by various UN bodies.
In the economic sphere, the measures foreseen aim at enhancing women's role in the
agriculture and rural economy and at maximizing benefits from economic activities to
women. FAO is to contribute to raising overall economic efficiency by increasing the
capacity and productivity of women and by expanding their economic opportunities.
In the social sphere, activities are to be geared to improvement of rural women's access to
education at all levels and to modernization of agricultural and home economics training and
degree programmes. The integration of population and nutritional considerations and of
social components in sectoral policies and programmes is also to be given systematic
In the decision-making sphere, efforts are to concentrate on improvement of women's
participation in institutions and in people's organizations. In this respect, the Plan envisages
promotion of specific policies and programmes including leadership and management training
to women in key positions.
The 94th Session of the FAO Council recommended that FAO identify concrete priorities and
a timetable of activities for implementation of the Plan. Seven priorities have been selected by
FAO for implementation during this biennium. Progress in implementing these priorities will
be monitored and new goals will be set for the period 1992-95, at the end of which the Plan
is to be fully operational.
The seven programme priorities that are specified on Conference document C89/14 are:
* FAO staff training on Women in Development (WID).
* Policy advice to Member Governments.
* Project development and monitoring.
* Reorientation of home economics and agricultural curricula.
* Preparation of manuals and guidelines to promote women in development.
* Data collection, research studies, communication and public information.
* Population education with special reference to women in development.
It may be noted that these priorities cut across technical units requiring their participation in
the conception, preparation and implementation of the selected activities. Their specific
contributions are listed in the Conference document.
The first priority is FAO Staff Training in WID: The aim of the training activities is to
increase the capability of FAO staff to understand and take account of the concerns of women
in agriculture in their respective technical fields and to integrate gender issues into project and
programme planning. Under this priority, 1200 FAO staff members in Headquarters in the
Regional Offices and in the FAO rprogramme offices will be trained with funding from
FAO's regular budget. Also anticipated is that there will be requests from FAO projects and
Member Governments to train their staff.
As noted, some INGOs have on-going training programmes and they might seek additional
training progammes on women in development issues for staff and rural people.
The second priority is Policy Advice to Member Governments: and some examples of FAO's
planned activities include: assisting Member Governments interested in revising their
agrarian legislation to concur with the guidelines provided by the UN Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms ofDiscrimination Against Women; offering a programme of
policy advice to national ministries of planning, agriculture and rural development for the
purpose of building and strengthening Women in Development units, and giving special
attention to including women when providing assistance to governments on people's
organizations, cooperatives and other rural groups.
In relation to INGOs, FAO can assist on policy related to WID. These could include the
policies that would establish the creation of opportunities for greater female participation in
leadership roles; the elimination of legal and attitudinal discrimination of the membership; and
activities that would focus the greater inclusion of women as participants in INGO activities
and programmes, as well as in the formulation of projects that are carried out on behalf of
The third priority is Project Development and Monitoring: FAO takes a two-pronged
approach of including both women-specific projects and the integration of women into
mainstream projects. Under the Plan, more emphasis will be given to the latter. FAO
intends to increase gender considerations in the planning, implementation, monitoring and
evaluation of projects at all project stages. Special attention is being given to the
identification of women as project participants, in presenting agricultural data by sex, and in
the inclusion of women in project formulation and implementation.
The on-going and pipeline projects with FAO with INGOs should be monitored for greater
inclusion of women as participants and beneficiaries in terms of access. to new technologies,
training programmes, cooperative activities, etc. The development of a "few, good projects"
that could include INGOs as part of the implementation to assist women agriculturalists in
terms of increasing their productivity, bettering their conditions of work; decreasing wage
differentials, providing income diversification; developing of peoples/ women's
organizations and providing leadership/ resource management activities would be welcome.
The fourth priority is the Reorientation of Home Economics and Agricultural Curricula:
Since home economics and agricultural extension workers are important agents for promoting
agricultural and rural development at grassroots and project levels, their training is a key to
development By including training in agriculture in home economics curricula, and by
including WID issues and women participants in agricultural courses, extension workers of
both sexes will be better equipped to give appropriate advice and training to rural farmers,
Some examples of FAO planned activities are: reorienting extension services to include WID
concerns and assisting Member Governments to redesign curricula to reflect WID concerns in
home economics and agriculture at training schools and higher education institutions
The INGOs, especially the International Federation of Home Economics, could assist both
conceptually in the formulation of of new curricula and in the implementation of the redesign
and restructuring of programmes.
The fifth priority is the Preparation and Promotion of Women in Development Guidelines and
Manuals: Some examples of FAO's planned guidelines and manuals are on women and'
fertilizer utilization, horticulture, irrigation, forestry, seed selection, integrated pest
management and animal husbandry, and on WID and population.
We will produce guidelines on how gender concerns can be addressed in project formulation
missions and project reviews, and publish guidelines on women and statistical indicators.
In relation to INGOs, the guidelines or manuals might prove useful to their work with rural
women, and those INGOs that have produced manuals might contribute to FAO's
The sixth priority is on Data Collection. Research Studies. Communication and Public
Information. FAO will intensify its efforts to improve the knowledge base on women in
development, to provide and analyse standard agricultural data by sex, and to carry out
studies on women's participation in agriculture and their access to rural services and
technology. It will set up a data base on women in agriculture and prepare a manual for the
collection of statistics on women in agriculture.
In relation to INGOs, there is great need for the collection of data and the carrying out of
studies, both on women's work and constraints to their production and income/
remuneration. INGOs themselves could assist in the collection of data, case studies and
The seventh priority is on Population education and WID. Some examples of FAO's planned
activities are: giving technical support on WID issues to projects with population
components, conducting case studies on women and population and providing technical
assistance and advisory services to Member Governments on the integration of population
and environmental concerns, and designing population components for integration into rural,
agricultural, fisheries and forestry development projects in which women participate.
In relation to INGOs, when FAO is involved in executing a project with population and
health components, it would be logical to invite collaboration with an INGO with expertise in
this area. Additionally, other types of population education projects would be possible for
The task of implementing the Plan of Action is being co-ordinated by the Women in
Agricultural Production and Rural Development Service (ESHW), with the participation of
technical divisions and units with a view to including WID concerns in their programmes of
The Plan and its priorities constitute a framework from which to evaluate potential requests
for collaboration with INGOs and Member Governments. Needless to say, not all requests
can be accommodated simultaneously, especially because of the lack of staff in ESHW.
However, a few, carefully designed interventions could prove useful and pave the way for
In summary, where collaboration with INGOs is appropriate, it should be sought. The unit
on women and agriculture welcomes the development of closer ties with INGOs in order to
identify and execute projects to assist women agriculturalists. Needless to say, the more
concrete suggestions that are within FAO's WID priorities are the ones that can be acted